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 The government no longer represents the people but rather the corporations.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 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:

          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 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:

        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: 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: as a solution to the problem of the for profit corporation here:

    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.
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      • 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. 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. 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.)

    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.
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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.
  • Jan 12 2012: I don't know that there is an acceptable answer to your question. I have the same concerns. I think that once a government becomes fascist, there is little hope for change without terrible societal upheaval. Combine corporate control of government with the research that has been done in the advertising field on how to control humans as groups, and I'm afraid we are subject to herding and control strategies that are far beyond most of our abilities to resist. Hate to be such a downer. I know you're looking for some positive strategy, but I just can't think of any.
    • Jan 12 2012: Sandra
      I personally believe it isn't hopeless, but it is hard. The Occupy movement is a start, but there are things we must do to limit corporate influence in civil decision making.
  • Jan 12 2012: Good stuff everyone. This is how we take control back. By having these discussions and by popularizing these ideas.
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    Jan 11 2012: James: I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of the core problem with our current system.

    Money controls politics.

    This is the essence of the Occupy movement and should be its primary focus. Moreover, it would be ideal if the Tea Party would also come around to this point of view. What was the original tea party all about? After all, it was a corporation’s tea they were dumping in the harbor. The collusion of moneyed interests and government was being opposed. And a constitution creating a government charged with promoting the common welfare was the result.

    How do we get people to unite around this important issue?
    • Jan 11 2012: Tim
      I too wish we could find that unifying issue that would grab people's hearts, not just their heads. I also wish th eTea Party agenda could be changed so that their real namesake could be understood. The Boston Tea Party was anything but a conservative think tank!
      Good post, now let's dialogue on the issue that can capture people.
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        Jan 11 2012: How about some nifty rally cry? Maybe "government of the people, by the people, for the people"?
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          Jan 15 2012: Someone will invoke the Patriot Act against you for even suggesting it Tim. Corporations have to be smaller, that is vital. At the moment some of them have an annual budget the size of a medium sized country. This is too much power, not governed by democratic will.
    • Jan 12 2012: Hi Tim

      I am hoping that the Occupy movement will adopt this idea and others will rally around it. Thank you for the compliment.
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    Jan 11 2012: i'd rather see the government out of corporations.
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      • Jan 11 2012: That's my point, the country is run by corporations.
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        Jan 11 2012: corporations can't run anything unless they have access to the power of the rulers. tell me how could mcdonalds force you to do anything. you know, deputy inspector bologna does not work for walmart. guess who he is working for.
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          Jan 13 2012: How does mcdonalds force you to do anything? They lobby to have money printed for them at the fed, and make the largest purchase of chicken, beef, and potatoes, in the world, it is thus cheaper to buy french fries prepared and served to you at McDonalds, cheaper, than frying potatoes at home with your family.

          Local burger places can't print money for their 2 shop store in Tuscaloosa, so they get defeated in competition by McDonalds... How? Wages. Poor people, are almost forced to eat, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Top Ramen, and 99 cent sandwiches because they have the most calories per cent. This is actually a false choice, when you factor in health issues, and transportation costs, but the consumer sees this as a "wash" a break even proposition, trading the gas and long term health of his family, for service with a smile... Service, that can't afford to shop at any corporation but Kraft, Mcdonalds, etc.

          Does this lower food prices and increase innovation in large scale production? Yes, and the government should grant some incentives for new technology and development in the field, if they are going to subsidize at all that is... but the cost, is that poor people are not just less healthy, but they are less "proud" of their jobs, because they don't work for a local burger stand, where they know the owner, and he'll spot him a loan on a bad day... They work for McDonalds, and it has a stack of applications, and no one expects you to stick around.

          This is all created by corporate influence over government, in terms of printed wealth distribution. So how do we fix this problem? The capitalist solution, the people take the hit... We eat and shop locally, and support all the people in our town that we can, and to do so, we cut back on our consumption, because prices go up.

          Most government solutions, would just make things worse, because the government always works seemlessly with corporation, but has little, if no connection to the local business community.
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          Jan 15 2012: At David, brilliant post. I wish I had written it....until...'Most government solutions, would just make things worse, because the government always works seemlessly with corporation,'.

          Why do you think this is a given? Because it is so in the U.S. does not mean it is so in other places. You cannot even find McDees in Germany (hardly). The people don't want it for the kinds of reasons you have outlined so eloquently. They asked their govt through proportionally representative democracy, to protect them from it and organisations like it.

          Imagine that? Fast food that is both cheap and good for you, hand made in a family enterprise that employs responsibly. That is what people in some countries enjoy.
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          Jan 21 2012: Adding the plea of David for local action I can you give an example from Germany where a local city focused occupy-movement changed a large-scale building project within the town, so called "Stuttgart21". It would have been good for government and corporations, not for the people living in it.

          Also there is a large debate about crowd-sourced political pressure - outside the party system: major german philosophers make it a public policy debate - here a video with Peter Sloterdijk (english subtitles):
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        Jan 12 2012: pierre,

        "But how much power must be given to them?"

        no power at all, except over their own property.

        "Plus, if the government doesn't take care of functions such as social services [...] I don't think the corps would"

        but people would. corporations provide everything that people want. if people want to take care of the needy, the market finds a solution. like the red cross. like churches. like kiva. like acumen fund. the list is endless.
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          Jan 15 2012: I finally found something I like in your social system; ''(governments would have) power at all, except over their own property'

          So if it therefore follows that property belongs to he/she who combines it with their physical labour, then I assume you would be a staunch supporter of indigenous peoples' land claims?
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        Jan 14 2012: pierre, never ever a monopoly emerged on the free market. monopolies are created by governments.
    • Jan 11 2012: I would also like to see the government out of corporations, they should be seperate.
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        Jan 14 2012: A democratic government creates and enforces the laws that (supposedly) we agree to live by. Are you saying that corporations should have no rules and regulations? They are entitled to pollute, have slave labor, not pay any taxes, cheat their customers, become monopolies and squash any competition, etc.?
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          Jan 15 2012: it is never like either the government does, or nobody. many functions of the modern government are new. hundred years ago, governments didn't do these things at all. the greatest progress in the western world happened during the industrial revolution. and governments barely did anything back then, compared to what we have today.

          we don't want to give up the control over corporations. we just question whether they are best suited to deliver results. the fact is, the government trashes everything it touches.
      • Jan 24 2012: An aristocratic form of government that was designed around an agricultural based economy and serfdom proved ineffective in dealing with Industrialization. Consequently the London smog, the diseases, the workhouses and child labor. Public outrage led to new forms of government that eventually corrected the major imbalances. In a post industrial age it is not the serf but rather the worker that has been displaced. Governments designed around industrial strategies find themselves inept at dealing with the current economic situation. The knowledge and technological advances are benefiting a few while most suffer. We can only hope that the current public outrage results in new forms of government capable of righting the imbalances once again.
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    Jan 25 2012: Thor I understand your point and agree that the true cost of corporate "profits" are not calculated and this would suggest another (and not at all contradictory) course of action to improve the situation by ensuring we are doing a "real cost" calculation and collecting it in the form of taxes somewhere (as a user fee for the planet, the people and the resources if nothing else). I have to disagree that the profit motive should remain unchallenged as the basis of corporations. If you redefine profit in the way you suggest (and I agree with) you are in fact including the ideal of responsibility in the idea of profit. I would simply put it to you that adding something along the lines of "it is every for-profit corporations right to pursue a profit in on behalf of the company shareholders and their responsibility to pursue this profit in a way that profits society as a whole. In other words the right of profit for some is balanced with the responsibility of providing a net benefit to all.

    I would agree the public needs to take on more responsibility (at the level of universal human rights and responsibilities, see here: but the corporation should also be defined not as an individual person but as a collection of individuals who are all sharing the equal rights and responsibilities of any single one of them. In other words a corporation is "a collection of people" their collective rights should not exceed that of any individual and their collective responsibility is assumed by each of them personally (as individuals). Holding people (under a corporate alias) accountable in this way I think accomplishes what both of us are interested in without conflict.
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    Jan 25 2012: Perhaps we can give assemblies of natural persons; corporations and such, lesser rights than natural persons.
  • Jan 24 2012: One of My hero s is Tankman. He did not stand in front of those tanks for money. (unless of course someone said I'll give you 50 bucks to go stand in front of that tank.)haha

    He's a fine example of One man saying volumes without saying a word.
  • Jan 24 2012: To date this comment has 414 other comments, I can't believe how many people are interested in this subject. It looks like people are talking after all and that's what we need. We then need to write our congressman, senators and such and let them know what we are thinking. We need to turn out in mass to support good ideas for change. We need to pull our money out of large banks and put in smaller banks. we need to unite and fight back, these people we have been talking about don't own us and never will. Shop and buy local, use mom and pop stores even if it costs a little more, not all can do this but many of us can. Vote wisely and see beyond the lies, if you don't think they can do what they say, they probably can't. God bless and thank you all for your input. Together we can bring about the much needed change in this country.
    • Jan 24 2012: James
      Thanks for a great question and very good moderating. There were some real issues dealt with in this question. Whether I agreed with all the people who participated or not, thanks for all the great responses. Dialogue is not about agreeing necessarily, but examining other's ideas and your own.
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      Jan 24 2012: James,

      Yes!! Well done. This conversation will be read and referred to long after it closes a few hours from now.

      Many excellent contributors here who have elevated the conversation about corporations above the dualistic thinking and polarities that got us into this mess in the first place. If we can keep going in that direction, at that plane, here at TED Conversations and in the many other venues where we speak and act and work we might start to see ourselves moving towards a more creative , productive, balanced, wise and sustainable relationship with corporations.

      We need corporations and all individuals willing to take the financial and other risks of research, innovation, creation and discovery to move us forward as a people of earth. But we need better more fluid and effective ways of encouraging that in a direction which creates what serves mankind and earth. We need to find more creative, resilient and dynamic ways of insuring that what is produced or extracted, is not only desirable and useful for mankind but also causes no harm to the planet or to the health and safety of people.

      As a lifelong advocate and activist in the old school of seeking solutions in laws, regulations and highly empowered oversight bureaucracies, I now see we went about this all wrong..

      The more global the realities of life are, the less effective this old way is.

      The old way sets up polarities where they may have been room for solutions and new possibilities.

      I think we can collaboratively find a new path that defines a more creative relationship between the public interest and free enterprise.

      I hope part of that collabortion can and will happen right here at TED Conversations.
  • Jan 24 2012: I came into this from threads recently updated and made a few comments before realizing how deep this conversation has gone. I am rereading from the original thread sequence and am so encouraged by the insights into open systems, eliminating corporate person-hood, the rebirth of a commons and the repudiation of the rugged individualism that survived as long as their were natural resources lands and peoples to be conquered. WoW!
  • Jan 23 2012: Thanks Don
    We are tring to wake the 99% up and when we do things will change. It will change when it's everyone and not just a few. We are trying hard to the seperate corporations and government message out there and just from this post you can see it garners a lot of interest. I own my own house and car but have to listen to many people drive by and yell "get a job " Camping in 20 degree weather is symbolic and won't be a way of life for me but if it gets people taliking then that's what we need. As for the drivers by, they only know what the media has put out which has not been flattering. We are not a bunch of young rich kids or hippies, we are people just like all of you. We range in age from 20-70 and have many supporters not camping. Maybe I'll make a sign that says you may have money and food but you are owned.
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      Jan 23 2012: James - Your experience with the Occupy movement fascinates me. Wish I could be out there camping as well. I visited the Occupy Philly site a couple of times and found it very intriguing. Can’t help but think that as the weather warms and the elections approach that the movement will fully blossom and have a profound effect on our whole political system. And I wish to thank people like you who are keeping the flame burning.

      I’m curious as to your opinion related to Andrea’s comment:

      One thing that strikes me about the Occupy movement is the diversity of opinions which it represents. Many of these viewpoints are non-conventional and as such may be political non-starters. But it does seem that the one issue which is accepted by the majority of Americans is that money has too big an influence on politics.

      So my question to you - do you see a congealing around this issue? Are the people you are around able to put aside some of the more tangential issues which they care about and unite around this one?
      • Jan 23 2012: My computer wouldn't let me make a comment on Andreas comment or at least not one that would go through. But I did comment that I signed the petition and asked her what a Q-Thread was because I don't know. Thank you for your support of Occupy, I'm trying to build consensus around the idea, no short chore.
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    Jan 20 2012: clean up the electoral process it may not be necessary to have a constitiutional ammendment:

    ( notes, the US Constitution (Article III, Section 2) gives Congress the power to define and regulate the "appellate Jurisdiction" of the Supreme Court. An 1803 Supreme Court also established the precedent that the Supreme Court must not decide essentially "political" questions. And "under Article I of the Constitution, it is Congress - not the court - that has the exclusive power to make or alter regulations regarding the 'Manner' of holding elections...[and the] power to judge the elections of its members."

    (This courtesy of Tom Atlee)

    I am not a consiutional scholar nor an expert i this area of law but I gather what this is saying is that the issue of coprorate free speech is totally unrelated to the ability of conngress to establsih how elections will be conducted and decided. Inotherwords Citizens United may not inaviladte all of whatever we had in elction reform law only any parts that invalidate what the supreme court has said are pritected rightsof corporations under the constiution.

    It might me that a corporation like any of us can buy and run an ad in any media with anycontent we want to pay for ( solong as that content is legal) but that our legsilature can forbid corporate donations or donations of more than a certain size from any one person included that persons compaies and inetrests); it can require complete disclure of the source of all monies received .

    This could be very good news, no?
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    Jan 20 2012: By illegalizing the contributions to political parties by corporations or individuals from those companies and by having 100 times the amount of auditors accounting for every penny coming into and going out of the govt. and politicians' bank accounts. Oh... and illegalizing tax havens.
  • Jan 20 2012: Make it punishable by long term imprisonment for a politician to take any contribution personally from a lobbyist. Make sure a system like a debt collection service is used to collect donations so lobbyist have no chance to talk to lawmakers as they are handing over cash. Also make it illegal for corporate lobbyist to Give gifts or Take vacations or Take out policy makers to dinner.
    Make a system that allows lobbyist to be heard only publicly(maybe in open sessions?) by lawmakers of any fashion so we can see and heard how these "deals" are made.
    Most important and what can happen immediately would be for like minded individuals to pool money and obtain their own lobbyist for our own protection and the protection of our rights. With out money we have no say and we need to start taking some these comprehensive groups that have formed and running them like a business or political party,pooling assets to secure "deals" of our own from these elected officials. If we do not our dwindling rights will, as people that don't have the extra free speech money can now provide, will be gone and we will be to late. If any one knows a group that has already started receiving donations for a lobbyist of public welfare and human rights I would love to donate and contribute all I can.
  • Jan 20 2012: Reading throughout these comments I see that somehow people have come up with the idea of getting rid of governments. I just want to be clear with my original post. I don't want to get rid of governments or corporations, I just want them seperated. I have learned so much from all of your comments and really appreciate the response, I hope the conversation continues. Talking about all these injustices is the first step to changing them.
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      Jan 20 2012: James - Your observation is quite on target. And it addresses a major battle being waged in the political world today. That is, do we reform government ... or eliminate it?

      During the “Reagan Revolution” the conservatives mounted a campaign to “starve the beast”. The theory being that by reducing taxation, government would be forced to contract. The result has been nothing but excessive deficit spending and the economic situation we are in today.

      The biggest problem I see with the “eliminate the government” rhetoric is that it is just a diversionary technique to divide the population between pro-government and anti-government groups. A lot more progress would be made if we focused on “reform-the-government”. Of course that would result in a loss of power to the politicians (term limits, campaign-finance reform, no post-government lobbying, etc.), so they prefer to keep us divided.
      • Jan 20 2012: You are correct Tim. The "divide and conquer" of the libertarians is rampant. We will have some sort of government and one that works. The question is what other reforms do we institute? The three you mention are great starting points.

        Joshua above just mentioned something new in the arena of supporting research instead of influence. I am still cogitating on it, but it might be another one. It could mean leveling the playing field from the opposite direction.
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        Jan 20 2012: "reform vs. revolution" is a very tired old argument. Reformists have been reforming for most of recorded human history; revolutionaries have been revolving for about the same time. Most of the problems identified and complained of thousands of years ago are still around in spite of all this. Read a little Cicero and pretend you don't know it was written 2000 years ago and you might get the idea.

        There is a third path - action, disregarding politics. That's the realm where 99% of all good works get done. I've been carrying on about it for a while in this thread and I think I'm done now. Just realize that those of us engaged in it are not involved in the old reform vs. revolution argument. We can't be placed in either camp, because we're not on the battlefield.
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    Jan 19 2012: The simple answer is that you don't. The more complicated answer is to change the way you think about governance and your relationship to social institutions. A relative handful of people can never, and will never, represent YOU. For instance each national appointed politician in the United States "represents" hundreds of thousands or millions of people. These people do not have the same needs, values, situations, desires, hopes, dreams and expectations. There is not even a plurality amongst them. In fact, an elected politician rarely gets elected by the votes of more than 25% of the people who he actually governs.

    But in any case, they can't possibly be attentive to or even acquainted with a significant portion of those people. Statistically speaking, each human being can have a close personal relationship with at most a couple dozen others and has the maximum capacity to even *remember* a few hundred or so. If you did the math and just worked out that that means of the ~1 million each politician "represents", he can only actually know less than one tenth of one percent of those people and only be well-acquainted with one one hundredth of one percent of those people, you might be getting close to understanding this "one percent" problem. If you then reflected on the fact that the real trick would be making yourself one of those few hundred "known" faces, you'd be edging even closer.

    Now, if it dawns on you that even though they can't keep all 1 million persons on that list of "known personalities" each of those 1 million persons can have the politician on their list of a few hundred "known personalities" you might really start to understand why this system is fundamentally broken. You might even have the right clues you need to point you toward a new and more reasonable goal than "fixing" it.
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      Jan 19 2012: So, Justen. Give us your outline of what you see as an appropriate political system. If your answer is “none” then give your opinion of how things might evolve once the current system is demolished.
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        Jan 20 2012: I am interested too Justin. For the record, any group, private or state can indulge in violence. I too support non violent organisations.

        I may be persuaded Libertarian Socialism may supply a safe and egalitarian model but not Libertarian Capitalism. The problem lies in who would own private property and how would that ownership be protected and controlled. Care to extrapolate?
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          Jan 20 2012: Safety is an illusion. No state in human history has ever solved the problems of crime and poverty. Any system, any person who promises you safety is a snake oil salesman. As for private property, it really depends on what you mean. When the first anarchists and socialists objected to "private property", they meant ownership of land - of pieces of geography defined on a map. I am opposed to that notion. I don't think you can own an abstraction - whether land or ideas. But as to ownership of actual physical things? Yes. You, personally, own the things that you have made for yourself or that you have obtained through voluntary exchange with others. That includes things you put on the ground - houses, gardens, wells, barns, that sort of thing. It's your job to protect your things. You might delegate that job to someone else, and that would be okay with me. You might even ask your neighbors if they'd like to cooperate to protect eachother - that too would be okay with me. Where I draw the line is the point at which you find one neighbor who is not interested and you and your other neighbors decide to accost him at gunpoint and demand that he participate in this venture.

          I suggest that many of the biggest societal problems humanity has ever faced come from crossing that line. One person declares first that he owns something. Sometimes this claim is fair and obvious - a thing he made, or the home he built. Sometimes it is dubious - a thing he found. Sometimes it is absurd - a piece of geography he's never even occupied, an idea he thinks he has originated, a person. In every case, he then makes it someone else's responsibility to protect this claim. If he can convince a large enough gang of people that the claim is legitimate, he has externalized the cost of maintaining his claim; and thus society at large is forced to pay the expense of landlordship, intellectual monopoly, slavery; while the private individual retains the profit.
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          Jan 21 2012: Your right Joanne, this is an interesting converstaion!

          Looks like you or I or even Justen should start a new thread talking about anarchism as a possible alternative. Perhaps many people will get more of an understanding of it and see it as a possible alternative. When it comes to any sort of social change, especially anarchism, an anarchist friend of mines stated that it all begins with "awareness" and "some sort of education about what anarchism really is"....

          I would love to say more about anarchism and clear up some things that I have seen that do not really represent anarchism but the conversation on it is already too long and I do not want to cause more perplexity but thanks for letting me know about it
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        Jan 20 2012: Ted: my first response is, I am not arrogant enough to assume I know the answer to everybody's problems. I just know what's not working. I know that no government has *ever* delivered completely on any promise it has ever made. There has never been a society without crime, without war, without poverty, without injustice. The state promises to deliver these things, but it cannot. In fact if you stop making moral exceptions for the state's actions, you find that it is often the biggest perpetrator of the ills it is meant to solve. Your average modern state commits so much armed robbery that it consumes half of all the productive efforts of its entire population. It engages in so much fraud and embezzlement - primarily by way of inflation and appropriation - that it makes the Madoffs of the world look petty in comparison. Its agents commit so much murder that they regularly rack up more kills than the most prolific of serial killers. It creates so much poverty through confiscation and destruction of private property that all the world's thieves and arsonists are a mere drop in the bucket.

        But it doesn't call these things robbery, fraud, embezzlement, murder, theft, arson; it calls them taxation, economic policy, "kickbacks" and "earmarks" and other nonsense, warfare and law enforcement, eminent domain and asset forfeiture, "nation building". Thanks to the use of these euphemisms these things somehow become different and don't get counted in the statistics; and so we see a supposed net reduction in crime, where what has really happened is just that crime has been redefined and then multiplied tenfold.

        In the end we still have the same problems, and no answers, and no "system". So I counter with: you can't have an alternative system till you have a system to begin with. What that system might look like I'm not sure. I have some ideas, but I'm not interested in the pursuit of the One True Authority, whether religious (a deity) or secular (a state).
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        Jan 20 2012: That said, have you considered the possibility that there is no One True Authority? As human beings, we tend to generalize and abstract so we can think on large scales without getting lost in the details. It's one of our greatest strengths, but it also gets us into a lot of trouble. Take for instance the notion of "crime". What is really a variety of generally defined bad acts perpetrated by a vast number of individuals with unique circumstances and motivations gets lumped into one big category, which we have never clearly defined. We then say we have this big problem, this "crime" problem, and we need a big solution for it, and thus we form a big institution and task it with finding and implementing that solution.

        I contend that what we really have is a lot of little problems (and quite a few non-problems, in the case of "malum prohibitum" crimes). You can only solve a lot of little problems with a lot of little solutions. You can't swat fruit flies with a sledge hammer. Furthermore, a single monolithic institution cannot provide a lot of little solutions. It cannot possibly be sensitive enough and precise enough to do that. The only way you'll even put a dent in any of these little problems is by taking individual, specific, direct action to solve them. David Graeber provides one of my favorite quotes on direct action (I paraphrase): "Suppose your village needs to build a well. In political action, one agitates local authorities who in turn agitate regional authorities to confiscate resources from another village in order to hire a work crew to come to the local village and dig the well. In direct action, one simply digs the well, and dares the local authorities to try to stop it."

        That is actually the way most problems are eventually solved, when they get solved at all. In some places this has come to be called "System D". I'm a big fan of that term.
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      Jan 20 2012: Hi Justin, another reply here, to your other comment.

      1.'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.' Therefore it follows that you also do not accept being robbed by private enterprise is this correct? So you do not agree with profit, interest, or rent either? If you will at least be consistent then you must concede this.

      2. '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.' Therefore you must agree that the actions of private enterprise are at least as violent/coercive as the state and that these equally violent, coercive private organisations must also be dissolved?. You do agree that some one can be jailed for not paying debt to a bank, or their rent, do you not? You do really believe in equality?
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        Jan 20 2012: Reply got misplaced, here it is:
        I don't agree that profit is robbery, provided it is obtained purely through peaceful, voluntary exchange. Likewise rent or interest, although I can't imagine many people opting to enter into agreements for rent in a world without state-enforced absentee landlords or for interest in a world without central banks. I can't imagine a world with very large profit margins where costs of industry - protection of property, repression of labor organization, the consequences of pollution, etc. are externalized to the rest of society via the state. In that sense, because I am forced to subsidize these things, or because I am not allowed a sane alternative, the earning of profit and interest and rent at my expense is certainly robbery.

        I agree that all violent, coercive organizations must be dissolved. But again you bring up the false dichotomy of the state vs. the corporation - the old divide and conquer routine. They are all part of the same crowd. They go to the same parties and country clubs, they graduate from the same colleges, when they get tired of politics they go into industry and vice versa. A corporation is a state entity, licensed, regulated, and protected from liability by the state; the state is a corporate entity which provides extortion and repression services for other corporations. Corporations ARE the state. The state IS a corporation. I don't make the distinction.

        And no, I am not in favor of debtors prisons. Or really imprisonment in general except, perhaps, in isolated and particular circumstances. In general I don't think it solves anything.

        But you'll have a hard time breaking up my position on grounds of consistency, and in the pursuit you may miss the larger point I'm trying to make. I would rather you assume that I am consistent, and then only bring up contradictions when I've actually made them, if you please. :)
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          Jan 20 2012: Re this; 'I don't agree that profit is robbery, provided it is obtained purely through peaceful, voluntary exchange.' since you included the proviso, that you would only agree with profit when it is given in peaceful voluntary exchange, then you are actually stating quite clearly that you do not agree with profit.

          The same goes for rent and interest. When some one can freely choose, they will choose not to pay profit, they will choose not to pay interest, and they will choose not to pay rent. The only way someone can be made to pay these things is through some system of coercion, either a monopoly, or through fraud, i.e the true nature of the exchange is being concealed from one party, or through threat of violence, for example he who does not pay his rent, will be forcibly removed from his house and made homeless, or sent to jail.

          So if you really do believe in equality as you say, then interest, rent, and profit are as equally coercive exchanges as taxation.I am sure you would not pay the interest on your mortgage if you had the choice, neither would I.

          Do you still stand by your statement? Or have you thought of a way to lose taxation but still retain exploitation through profit, rent and interest (expoitation is not a peaceful exchange between two EQUAL parties is it?) ?
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          Jan 21 2012: I am not trying to 'break up (your) position on grounds of consistency,', only to understand it. I too do not like 'isms' and feel they are counterproductive, having said that, I am strongly against the 'anarcho capitalist' movement, because of some inherent neo-facist elements to the theory.

          I am still trying to figure you out.
        • Jan 21 2012: @Justen Robertson Joanne seems to want to fight when she reads certain concepts. My theory is that some of the concepts you and I, and some others are talking about, don't fit into prepackaged social systems. I believe what's happening is that when she hears one idea, that is a core tenet of a particular system she is aware of, she assumes that the other facets of that system are assumed to apply to the writer. While initially a little painful for me, this has been good for me because in 'defending' myself from her, I have discovered at least one system that I know doesn't describe me.

          I have always called my philosophy Traubanism because I had never (until recently) discovered anyone else who seemed to posses so many of the same thoughts. Also, exposure to other people's ideas over these last 10 years has cemented or challenged many of my ideas, to the point where I can be sure that I only a few certainties about what everyone should agree on. Three cheers for the internet!
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        Jan 21 2012: This inability to reply beyond a certain depth in a thread is really starting to bother me :)

        Joanne: I am pretty certain that if I could go out and build a home on a piece of unused land I would do that immediately. I think many other people would probably do that as well, given the opportunity. I can't say with any confidence that *all* people would do that. It seems that even when that was an opportunity not everyone did it, e.g. in early colonial America (there was plenty of space out there not claimed or in use by anybody).

        I also know that the only thing that makes it practical to claim a piece of land you're not using and hold on to it is that someone else is paying for it. It would become incredibly impractical to hire security guards to check in on unused land and harass its occupants if taxpayers weren't footing the bill. Especially if nobody respected that claim and the security guard didn't enjoy any guarantee of legitimacy if he harassed an occupant.

        As to profit, I guess it depends on how you define it. we all seek to gain, to improve our situation. When I plant some seeds, the profit I expect to gain is the difference between the cost of the seed and the value of the crop. There's no objective, concrete way to quantify that difference. If I trade some potatoes for someone else's corn, all I can know for sure is I grew some potatoes, and he grew some corn, and we each wanted the other's product more than the one we had. By exchanging them, we both benefit - thus profit. How is that immoral? I don't think it is.

        I do, however, think that without state-granted monopolies and restrictions on trade and competition, the perceived value differences would balance out more evenly, tending toward energy cost wherever rarity or sentiment did not apply. This all comes down to theories of value. Many people in the world are still operating on the labor theory of value, which is something like unwittingly being a flat-earther. Economics has moved on :)
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          Jan 21 2012: Well Don, I hope to goodness I did not cause you any pain and I am glad you took something from the exhange, anyway.

          Justen, I would like to deal with a couple of the ideas you bring up in your post.

          1.' in early colonial America (there was plenty of space out there not claimed or in use by anybody' Do you acknowledge that most if not all the space that was claimed, WAS in fact in use, it was just not a usage consistent with the encroaching culture who were neither huntergatherers nor semi nomadic? Would you like to qualify this statement?

          2.There are two distinct political ideas here, 'we all seek to gain, to improve our situation.' implies (correct me if I am wrong) accruing surplus, therefore some capital is gained. Conversely this is a straight barter of labour 'if I trade some potatoes for someone else's corn, all I can know for sure is I grew some potatoes, and he grew some corn'. Here there is no capital gain or surplus in the transaction.

          One is an equal exchange, the other is unequal.

          You have 'heard' me debating as a social reformer, someone who seeks to balance the forces of capital gain in society as it exists now, choosing the best model (the nordic in my opinion) and modifying it to a more peaceful sustainable model.You are proposing a society free of govt, free of property rights (am I correct in that assumption) but one where people can still acquire surplus. Surplus or capital gain results in heirarchies, heiracrchies result in exploitation. How will you prevent monopolies and exploitation from forming? How will you protect the weak in your society?
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        Jan 21 2012: Joanne, to your most recent points:

        1. No I don't acknowledge that most of the land was claimed. There were only a few million inhabitants on the entire continent, not nearly enough to occupy and use the entirety of it, or even the most fertile portions. The earth is a very large place and there's space enough for all of us on it even today. I do agree that many of the inhabitants were not nomadic or hunter gatherers. Many had advanced and complex cultures that we're tragically just starting to understand in the past few decades thanks to the thorough genocidal eradication carried out by some of the early conquerors. I don't think it's fair to frame *all* the colonists that way, because many lived in peace and cooperation with the natives; but those who did not I am happy to condemn, for whatever that is worth today.

        2. You and I might be dealing with slightly different ideas of capital gain. I would not necessarily call surplus unequal or unfair - after all, all of us, even today, require savings to weather hard times. It's the lack of our ability to save, largely due to much of our productivity being confiscated, that helps create a situation where most of us are indebted to a few privileged elites. I don't think that the accumulation of some surplus is inherently immoral, nor is the desire to do so. I do find it unrealistic that large accumulations of wealth could occur without the use of force. Both rational extrapolation and the evidence I have at hand suggest that this is impossible and has never occurred where there is no state (and not simply because of rampant crime as statists would have you believe).
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          Jan 21 2012: Justen Regarding this; I do find it unrealistic that large accumulations of wealth could occur without the use of force. Hierarchies and force go hand in hand. How would you prevent the use of force then? (to frame the question in another way)

          Re this; 'I don't agree that profit is robbery, provided it is obtained purely through peaceful, voluntary exchange.' since you included the proviso, that you would only agree with profit when it is given in peaceful voluntary exchange, then you are actually stating quite clearly that you do not agree with profit.

          The same goes for rent and interest. When some one can freely choose, they will choose not to pay profit, they will choose not to pay interest, and they will choose not to pay rent. The only way someone can be made to pay these things is through some system of coercion, either a monopoly, or through fraud, i.e the true nature of the exchange is being concealed from one party, or through threat of violence, for example he who does not pay his rent, will be forcibly removed from his house and made homeless, or sent to jail.

          So if you really do believe in equality as you say, then interest, rent, and profit are as equally coercive exchanges as taxation, are they not?
        • Steve j

          • +1
          Jan 21 2012: Justen, you say "I do find it unrealistic that large accumulations of wealth could occur without the use of force."

          I don't recall Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, just to name two people, resorting to force to accumulate large amounts of wealth. No one has ever been forced to buy Microsoft software. There is always a choice.
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          Jan 22 2012: Justin,

          I agree with Joanne and Steve. Wealth by no means requires use of force.

          Take for example, Norway. One of the highest GDPs in the world, highest standards of living (and, interesting potential corollary: one of the lowest crime rates in the world). Not known for using violence to achieve wealth.

          And, Wallstreet Journal reports of a new law in some US states that promote outcomes of building "common good" wealth measurements in for-profit corporations.

          The "muscle" behind this law is that it supports corporate governance that priorities social good, not monetary profits.

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        Jan 21 2012: I find the notion of 'the weak' poisonous and insulting. This stems from millenia of bad philosophy going all the way back to Plato. There are not inherently weak people who need inherently strong people to protect them. You are not weak, I am not weak, the poor are not weak, the repressed are not weak, and the last thing we need is self-declared authorities "protecting" us. We've seen where that scam gets us. "The strong" have a funny way of transforming into cowards and idlers and abusers as soon as they've convinced "the weak" they deserve authority. They have a funny way of sending "the weak" off to die in campaigns of murder and robbery to sate their ever-growing avarice. I don't think there's any strength or virtue in being a thug who, unlike 'the weak', is willing and able to use violence to get what he wants. That just makes one a poor excuse for a person.

        As to whether surplus results in hierarchies, that's a very interesting problem. It seems to, I agree; but the funny thing is that the people on top are never the people who actually *produced* the surplus, are they? The first societies to develop what we'd recognize as modern states were the ones who first developed grain agriculture. As soon as they were able to produce more food than was needed for the population, thereby ensuring long-term stability of the food supply and anchoring them to a single area, governments started to form. But it's never the farmers who become the governors. Those seem to materialize from elsewhere. Often they're not even locals, they're invaders who discover a society they can pillage indefinitely if they only regulate their consumption to roughly the degree of surplus available. It's hard to say for sure since the evidence is so scant and from such a distant past, but this appears to be the pattern that has been repeated through history.

        Again I recommend the book "The Art of Not Being Goverened", James C. Scott, and also "Toward an Anarchist Anthropology", David Graeber.
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          Jan 21 2012: Justin, regarding this 'I find the notion of 'the weak' poisonous and insulting'. Every person is weak at some stage, I myself was very weak once, just after I was born and before the age of four. I am approaching a time when I may be that weak again. I know others who have been sick and could not 'hunt' or 'gather'. There are some others who I know who can never perform these acts, for one reason or another. How do you propose to protect these people in your society, how will they be looked after? Will it be left to their clan, and if there is no clan, are they to be fertiliser or jackal fodder?

          I will read these books with interest, for now I have downloaded Graeber's discussion on debt, which looks interesting.
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        Jan 21 2012: As to how to prevent these things, I think the best way is to refuse to tolerate or support the means by which they happen. The way slavery was abolished in most of the world is informative. Unlike the United States and one other country (I think it was in the Carribean or Latin America, I can't remember off hand), it was ended peacefully. Popular support for abolitionism grew, governments were pressured into ceasing enforcement. They never, or only much later, actually banned the practice of slavery. They just stopped catching slaves for the slave owners. It turns out to be very expensive to perpetrate all that constant violence and manhunting. The only way it's affordable is when everyone else - the public at large - is charged with the expense of maintaining the institution. Even the wealthiest plantation owners couldn't afford to do it themselves while staying profitable; and so they gave up on it. Not because they had a moral change of heart, not because their mansions were stormed at night by torch-and-pitchfork wielding abolitionists. Only because everyone else stopped helping them do it.

        I endeavor to stop helping people exploit me, and I encourage you to do the same. I expect that we'll find that the answer to the problem of prevention can be found in our mirrors. Let's be abolitionists, and withdraw our moral, financial, and physical sanction from exploitation first, by the most efficient and expedient means we can find. That's a big enough task, especially when that sanction is obtained at gunpoint. If that ends up not being enough, let's cross the bridge when we come to it. That's my strategy anyway, and it's working for 1.8 billion people out there.
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        Jan 21 2012: Re: follow-up questions on protection, I think you're making the mistake of projecting psychopathy on the vast majority of the human race. We all take care of eachother because we want to, not because some moral authority sticks guns to our heads and forces us. Only about 1 in 100 people is a psycho/sociopath - i.e. lacking empathy, compassion, or the ability to imagine and appreciate the consequences of their actions on others. Children and the elderly get taken care of by their loved ones; when their loved ones cannot, they get taken care of by those who can. This is the way human society worked everywhere on the planet for most of the past 300,000 years of our existence.

        It's only in the past several hundred years that we have suddenly shirked this responsibility and handed over to central authorities (who, by the way, are doing a disgusting, miserable job of it in most places where they try). But we don't want to feel as if we've shirked our responsibilities, because we still feel compassion; so we project that onto the state and imagine that, by paying taxes and forcing others to do so, we are satisfying that compassionate motivation. I find this all pretty hollow and unsatisfying, myself. I take care of my family directly, and my friends in need directly, whenever I can. The only thing that stops us from caring for everyone are the artificial barriers set up by the very authorities who are meant to be doing this for us.

        The only time the 99% non-psychopaths fail to take care of each other is when they don't have enough for themselves. I am convinced that by removing the barriers and ensuring everyone has what they need to produce more than enough for themselves, the questions of who will take care of who will sort themselves out naturally - because we all want it to happen, and the capability exists, so we will find peaceful ways to do it as we had in the past before rulers came along.
        • Jan 21 2012: @Justen,
          ROFL. Couldn't even get through the rest of this one.... "Only about 1 in 100 people is a psycho/sociopath" This is a good ratio for you?!
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          Jan 21 2012: Yup, me too. You use far to many words to describe something which only needs one word. Facistic. When we advocate something that is grossly un-egalitarian we advocate facism. Dress it up all you want. I like to call a spade a spade too.

          I have lived in lots of different kinds of societies, people care for each other for many reasons. In societies where there is no institutional social care, it falls to social currency and clan or otherwise recipricocity. This is only another kind of currency or as Graeber describes it, debt. Clan recipricocity works well, for example you will never see a Greek person begging in Greece where I lived for many years, you might however see anyone outside of their culture, man, woman, child, the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill, destitute and begging.

          You expect to convince someone like me, who has direct experience of many cultures, and has some knowledge of how societies are set up and function, that the 'she'll be right mate, they won't starve' is a legitimate workable model? Sorry you have lost me. That sounds far too laissez faire, which is close to a near perfect representation of facism, apart from the peaceful thing, which is only a blind, so long is authoritarian property ownership is left in the model.
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        Jan 21 2012: Anthony: I don't have preferences about facts. Th reality that 1 in 100 people are pathological is unfortunate to say the least, but it is a fact of life we have to deal with. If you're uncertain about that ratio you're welcome to look into it and dispute the numbers, but what we'd *like* that ratio to be (ideally, 0 in 100) is as irrelevant as what we'd like the strength of gravity to be. Anyway, best of luck to you in your efforts.

        Joanne: I'm not sure you have a rigid definition of fascism. It doesn't mean "things I don't like or find distasteful". It is a system of governance defined by strong nationalism, subjugation of the individual rights and needs to those of the state, and an economic policy of subsidy of private business with state-appropriated resources along with strict regulation and control of competition in favor of state-privileged entities. You might some variants of that definition depending on where you look for it, but that is the essential character.

        There are other things that we both agree are undesirable that are not unique fascism - authoritarianism, hierarchy, domination, poverty, human suffering; but it is not productive to simply label everything undesirable "fascism" and be done with it. It doesn't solve any problems or answer why they're undesirable or how to put a stop to them. And whatever you think about laissez faire, it is certainly not fascism any more than communism is. It is true that fascists like to use various words like "laissez faire" and "socialism" and "community" when it serves them, but they'll label themselves with whatever words they think are most effective in gaining our sympathies. Propaganda is another core aspect of fascism, after all - necessary in creating a false sense of national identity and solidarity.

        Anyway, as we're going around in circles here at this point, I'll bow out. I may read any further replies, but I probably won't respond to them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)
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          Jan 21 2012: Actually certain communist movements fit a definition of facism quite well too. 'authoritarianism, hierarchy, domination, poverty, human suffering,' and chronic un-egalitarianism DO fit within the wide definition of facism.

          What I find interesting, is that anarchists, along with people who advocate all branches of democratic socialism, or even democratic capitalism, will all discuss any aspect of their model quite openly. Laissez Fairists, (if you prefer the kinder term), on the other hand, will always side step the key issues of authoritarian property ownership, and care for the needy.

          If you look back at your answers, I have asked you direct questions along these lines several times. You have evaded neatly each time. Why is that? People who advocate facistic models, deep down, know it is wrong, know it could never work, know it would produce a horror world of tryanny and repression. The reasons for advocating these kinds of policies, are not to produce a better world, a more humane, peaceful world, usually there are other reasons, I find.
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      Jan 20 2012: Justen - It’s Tim not TED! I’ve been mis-identified before. And am always insulted that anyone would construe any form of kinship.

      Your comment “[the] modern state commits so much armed robbery that it consumes half of all the productive efforts of its entire population” is a refrain I’ve heard many times. The implication being that we could live twice as well if we just eliminated the state. So why not prove it? Choose a region of the world. Collect a group of like minded individuals. And show the rest of the world what is possible.

      Now, I know it may be difficult for you, personally, to pick up and leave your home and do this. But the fact that it hasn’t been done makes it very questionable whether your theory is true. You are right, your line of reasoning has a great deal of coherence to it. But without observable application it is hard to put much faith in it.
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        Jan 20 2012: Sorry about the name Tim :) I guess it's easy to get "Ted" stuck in your head around here what with all the giant red logos.

        "But the fact that it hasn’t been done makes it very questionable whether your theory is true."

        Actually you're wrong on several counts. It has been done, and continues to be done, from the small scale to the large all over the world. James C. Scott wrote a great book focusing on Upland Southeast Asia, which has never been under any kind of effective government rule in the 7000+ years it has been inhabited by humans (the book is "The Art of not Being Governed: an Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia"). There are tribal cultures that have maintained a stable customary law system for thousands of years all around the world (compare this to the average 300 year lifespan of a state). Several anarchist anthropologists and sociologists have written very interesting books about them; David Graeber is one of my favorites.

        In modern times there have been anarchist enclaves, communes, and effectively stateless regions all over the world practicing a variety of different decentralized systems of governance. One of the best modern examples is the Mondragon region in Spain. Another notable modern enclave is Freetown Christiana, although in the past decade it has suffered increasing incursions by government.

        Of course there was the pre-modern american wilderness, which was stateless and/or polycentric for centuries until the United States, Canada and Mexico eventually swallowed it up (and which was not so wild, see "The Not So Wild, Wild West"). And there was Iceland for over 300 years in the Middle Ages. Ireland practiced a polycentric customary law system for around 1000 years.
        (to be continued)
        • Jan 20 2012: Although I am not now nor have I ever been Tim, I do have to answer your post. First of all the examples you give are small rural or socially marginalized groups. How are they examples of what you would do with our society? And for example, your Mondragon example is a tad faulty. See this website for some interesting descriptions o f their governance:

          They might be a cooperative, which I have no problem with , but the certainly do have governance and rules.

          Because all of your examples fall into clan or at best tribal societies, how do these principles, fit into our complex society? Do we break everything and everyone down into tribal bases? Actually every society retains personal, family, clan, and tribal structures though we don't call them that. Our society is a complex social construct. Once complexity had intertwined itself, it is really difficult to undo it. Of course my zombie apocalypse example below would be one.

          The historical examples you give do talk about pluriform societies, but ones that were not united in any way and they still had sometimes very strict tribal rules for governance. (See any good book about Mexican or Central American pre-columbian society). Historically, they were not without governance, but without complexity.

          The so called anarchist communes you mention, yes did rebel against general societal rules, but most of them again had very strict internal social governance. Rather than being examples of "your theory being true" they are excellent examples of exploration on the edge of society. Most of them eventually broke down or break down, because sooner or later they do have to deal with larger societies around them.

          Short of total anarchy, which is by the way what I think most libertarians think they want, there is no way to untangle complexity to follow the examples you cite. Unless of course you totally withdraw from this society, thereby losing influence in it.
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          Jan 21 2012: Justen, I am hugely interested in anarchy, and its possible applications in contemporary society. I am very excited by these models, and there ARE existing societies. You are right Michael and Tim, they are usually small tribal communities which sadly often do not stand up to an encounter with a more militant neighbour, nevertheless, I think we can learn a great deal from these systems and possibly even extrapolate a workable model for a large group.

          My problem is with concepts around property. If you think you can preserve an anarchist model, which is essentially peaceful, and still retain monopolistic systems of capital gain, you are not talking about anarchism, you are not even talking about peaceful exhange. It IS by its nature coercive. Can you please clarify your stance on this point?
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        Jan 20 2012: But I think your charge is somewhat disingenuous in that you must know that every square foot of land on the planet is claimed by some state or other in word if not in effect; and that they don't take kindly to secessionists, revolutionaries, and scofflaws like myself. Even if you personally don't agree, governments are happy to send in armed men to murder every man, woman and child in any community that dares to reject their rule. Even though I don't personally like the folks at Ruby Ridge or Waco, I remember the lesson. I also remember the war the Zapatistas have been fighting for more than a decade now, and I remember what happened to Chechnya, and I know how people are being treated right now in Egypt, and I know what happened to the Argentinian syndicalists.

        None of these examples are perfect or ideal, but then, show me an ideal state.

        Anyway what you're asking really is whether I'm willing to offer myself and my family as martyrs, and to that my answer is no. But I don't need to go off somewhere else to practice my ideas. I can do that right here, from my home.

        You may have noticed the article I linked earlier which identifies "system D" as the second largest economy on earth. 1.8 billion people, all practicing anarchist principles (if often without the baggage of ideology). We are doing this. It's already happening, and it's already making a positive difference in people's lives.

        As another example, you may take notice of the fact that there are free and widely available tools that allow you to communicate privately using encryption that no individual, group or state has ever demonstrated the capability to break (such that many are attempting to prohibit it). It delivers what the state has promised, but cannot give you: perfect privacy. This was no coincidence. The cypherpunks (crypto-anarchists) gave you this technology.

        The thing is this is not a hypothetical; I'm not talking about the future, I'm introducing you to the present.
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          Jan 20 2012: Thanks Justen. You’ve given me plenty of interesting topics to research. I don’t see any link to “System D” though. Can you point me to it?

          Your reference to "The Not So Wild, Wild West" brings up an important point. Won’t some form of government always emerge?

          But I definitely agree with your argument that we need to avoid concentrations of wealth.
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        Jan 20 2012: Michael M: all very good questions and points. When one discusses statelessness, one must not make the perfect the enemy of the good (what is "pefect anarchy" anyway?). Of course whenever you get two people together rules emerge. We want to be able to predict each other to some extent so we can get to doing what we do best - working in abstractions. This is all fine.

        My standard of statelessness is only that you have a real, effective choice between systems, and between system and no system. As long as this is the case, you have a laboratory, you have evolution, you have emergence. Or rather, to the extent that you have choice and flexibility, you have opportunity for those things. Where you have rigidity and hierarchy and social ossification, you do not have the opportunity for change.

        A fallacy frequently committed by statists is to ask for an example of a society that looks essentially like their own, minus an overbearing government. I believe this to be wrongheaded. You'll never have such a thing. A state is required for the concentration of wealth and power and the trampling of individual rights and needs that lay the groundwork for your multinational corporation, for your advanced military, for your national highway system. A better question is whether those things are desirable, or what something more desirable and more effective at serving individual needs might be.

        That doesn't mean we need to eschew technology and civilization to get freedom. I'm of the opinion that only technology and civilization provide the surplus of wealth necessary to sustain a parasitic criminal organization like a government - not the other way around. So while you need a state to concentrate power and wealth, you cannot concentrate power and wealth until there is power and wealth to be had. I'm more interested in keeping the technology and the civilization and avoiding the concentrations. The best answer I have for you there is: we're working on it, and making progress.
        • Jan 23 2012: Justen
          Your major fallacy is this one, and frankly the upon which your whole argument hinges.

          A state is required for the concentration of wealth and power and the trampling of individual rights and needs that lay the groundwork for your multinational corporation, for your advanced military, for your national highway system."

          Governing states existed long before these two things emerged. If you say a priori "states trample individual rights", something that you will not be able to back up historically, then I suppose you might be correct. However, states do not a priori trample individual rights and again governing systems develop even in most of the "anarchist" or communal groups you hold up as models. In fact many of them had very strict hierarchies and did their best, usually through social not legal controls to demand conformity. The mere fact they were "outside of" or deemed themselves "outside of" statist society, does not mean they actually were non statist, they were in most cases non-conformists which is not the same thing.

          There are huge examples, even the one you mention about slavery, where governments did seek after individual rights. Our own Constitution, for good or ill, does that.

          On your idea for individual or familial experimentation, that is fine. Have at it. However, you want everyone to produce their own food? That is a complete impossibility in today's world. It is not the question of enough land it is a question of arable land, food habits, food distribution and the ability of everyone to to go back to that lifestyle. While you claim not to be a Luddite, I wonder. While you might be able to accomplish that on a very personal scale, in today's world it simply does not scale up.
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        Jan 20 2012: Tim, here's the article I was referring to, re: system D:

        About whether governments will always arise, I think it's a funny question. I'm convinced that for the foreseeable future there will always be people who prefer violence and theft to hard work and cooperation. Some of them will be charismatic, and so will form gangs. Some of those gangs will call themselves governments, as they have in the past. The only real question is how many of us will choose to cooperate with them, and to use their euphemisms for their actions. I am comfortable with this reality. Mountain lions want to kill me, raccoons want to get into my trash, foxes want to eat my chickens, and gangsters want me to work so they don't have to. There are ways of dealing with all these things, and usually shooting at them or giving them what they want is not the best or cheapest solution.
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        Jan 20 2012: I agree that we need to avoid concentrations of wealth, I agree that decentralisation is one way of doing that, and has other benefits too, I do not agree 'safety is an illusion' Justen. I have lived in a country with low or zero crime, and one where for decades, no one has suffered below the poverty line. Its cynical to suggest these things are not achievable.
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        Jan 21 2012: Joanne: I'd like to know where this country you lived is. I've never heard of it. I've seen places with very low crime, and relatively low wealth disparities. I think there's better ways to do this then to provide the means, through complex systems of state privileges, regulation and taxation, to concentrate wealth and then to take most of that concentrated wealth back away and redistribute it. This sounds a little Rube Goldbergian to me.

        As for capital, I don't see anything inherently wrong with one person who has a surplus to lend it to another person in order for that person to better himself, on the expectation of recovering it later. I don't see any problem with people agreeing to that if they choose to. I don't even really see a problem with agreeing to give back much more than what you originally borrowed, if that's what you really want to do. But as you say, the current reality is that there is a vast amount of coercion and very little actual choice and we must not make the mistake of using idealized scenarios to justify present realities.

        I also am not a fan of the undue focus placed on the role of capital in a 'capitalist' system. To me this makes as much sense as calling a system 'receptionistism' or 'machinistism'. There's a big difference between capitalism and market anarchism, even though capitalists would like to pretend or imagine that the present system is a natural and desirable outcome of non-coercive market economies.

        For a deeper exploration of these ideas I suggest "Markets, Not Capitalism". It's been put much better by others in the past and present than by me, and the book collects many compelling essays spanning several hundred years on the subject. Naturally, it's available for free online, or in dead tree format if you prefer form a number of vendors.
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          Jan 23 2012: "Markets, Not Capitalism" looks like a fascinating read. Wish this conversation would last till I get through it. Thanks Justen.
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      Jan 22 2012: Justin,

      Disagreed. It is entirely possible to. Agreed, not easy. But possible.

      In the US multiple and powerful movements are engaging and making meaningful progress. It can seem like one step forward two steps back, but progress is occurring and there is more to come provided people continue to put the "force" of multi-sector, mulit-path and sustained energies behind it. Like corporate spreadsheets, it is a "numbers' game.

      Unlike corporate spreadsheets, large numbers of people mobilizing against corporate greed can and does work.

      From the Grape Boycotts of the 60s to Occupy Wallstreet of late, corporations, when citizens get moving in loud and large numbers change. Smart corporations and civic leaders get on the citizen bandwagon.

      Such disruptive contagions of grassroots pro-integrity innovations are happening and will continue.

      Those who keep running spreadsheets numbers games, instead of jumping onboard might well be left coughing up dust, perhaps, as they are trying to explain their un-American behaviors to the judge ruling on their collusion and corruption cases.

  • Jan 19 2012: We the People of Earth, in order to promote an everlasting global peace and maximize the opportunity for individual fulfillment and expression, personally commit to the following IDEALS of thought and behavior.

    1. Do no harm personally, or support IN ANY WAY, anyone else or any group – government or otherwise – doing harm, except in self-defense, or the protection of the defenseless.

    2. Never through force, deprive anyone of their freedom, or support IN ANY WAY, anyone else or any group – government or otherwise, from depriving anyone of their freedom, except in self-defense, or the protection of the defenseless.

    3. Commit our lives towards improving the human condition, first by making ourselves standard bearers of love-driven thinking and action, and second by seeking to apply our time, energy and talents towards solving the major challenges facing our world.

    Once this VERY BASIC constitution is completed, allow as many people who feel the same way to digitally sign on to it.

    Once the size of the group achieves a critical mass, we can begin to work together to address #3.

    I think it's important to establish the basics of what we idealistically agree on before we address any attempt to solve the world's problems. If we don't, we run the risk of unintentionally defying these core principles. For example, even a democratic process still contains within it a component that violates the 1st and 2nd commitment, since it ultimately might force the will of one group on someone else. I understand that this complicates things, but I think that we need to ATTEMPT to address things from this foundation anyway.
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      Jan 19 2012: So lets take the first one. What constitutes 'self defense'? If you move to take the water flowing through an indigenous persons land, and he puts puts out his hand to try to stop you, is it self defense when you fight him off?

      If you want access to the oil on a country, would you have to cook up a story of a WMD or find a bad character first, and then call the war you make inorder to secure your oil interests ' protection of the defenseless'?

      I find it particularily disgraceful that you are cloaking what is essentially facism in the sense that it rejects universal egalitarianism, into something that looks like a peace movement. Some gullible people will probably fall for it, not me.
      • Jan 19 2012: Joanne, it is a little frustrating discussing ideas with you because you keep making assumptions about what I would suggest as solutions to the problems I'm simply pointing out. I'm genuinely only interested in working with like minded people to openly explore the problems I have felt in my gut since I was a teenager – ideas that formed exclusive of any influence aside from a keen awareness of the incredible morass associated with how things operate on this planet. It's especially frustrating since it should be obvious that I HAVE NO INTENTION OF FORCING ANYONE TO DO ANYTHING – heck it's the first commitment of a MY proposed World Constitution. How could you conclude in any way that I would suggest the exact opposite?

        You say, "I find it particularily disgraceful that you are cloaking what is essentially facism in the sense that it rejects universal egalitarianism, into something that looks like a peace movement. Some gullible people will probably fall for it, not me" – Seriously, this is what you REALLY think? Wow. If you were to read EVERYTHING I've ever written, spoken about or even THOUGHT, you would find nothing that has included the idea of accomplishing anything, respecting human beings, through force. I actually feel bad every time I eat meat because I know that I have participated in the killing of a defenseless animal, merely to satisfy my desire for a particular taste. How selfish am I? Answer: Very!

        Your comments appear quite hostile. I never would have expected this from an open-minded person such as I had assumed described everyone on this forum. Given that you have impugned my motives, can you please help me avoid this situation in the future by honestly sharing with me how you came to your conclusions? Since you don't know me as my lifelong friends do, I understand that you are viewing me through your unique filter. I don't want to stop sharing my ideas, but I would like to avoid producing this effect in anyone else in the future if I do. Thank you
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          Jan 19 2012: don't take it personally. the are angry because they are in the denial phase. they simply can not allow the very thought get through their defenses. it would shake the peace of their minds.

          alas, there is no easy way to truth. people have to be shaken, peace must be disturbed, things have to be stirred up. the old thinking, the beast of intellectual sloth and fear of change have to give in, and only then the new type of thinking can win. you have to be prepared for hostility. we will see much more of it.
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          Jan 19 2012: Hi Don, I agree there is assumption in this statement, 'I find it particularily disgraceful that you are cloaking what is essentially facism in the sense that it rejects universal egalitarianism, into something that looks like a peace movement'. If this does not apply to you, then I apologise.

          I am not hostile toward any person, but some ideas should be struggled against. Apartheid, neo-nazism, facism, are examples of these, because these philosophies carry the seed of human suffering. We can only end up with regimes that advocate policies like these if we stand by and let them gain ground unchallenged.

          I put anarcho capitalism, or liberal capitalism in the same category because of the homesteading principle. It is racist and aggressively un-egalitarian. If it were ever implemented it would result in a horror world where one group had monopolistic tyranny over the other. Violent in every possible respect of the word. If you think the 'homesteading principle' is a good idea and advocate it then I correctly apply the lable 'violent facism' to your viewpoint. That is a technical term, and it has been correctly applied.

          If I have misunderstood, and made an incorrect assumption about your views on the homesteading principle (I took that from your comment re the wild west, and I see how I have indeed leapt to an assumption which may not be correct) and you are in fact a liberal socialist as is Orlando, then I would probably agree with you regarding taxation, because you would be abolishing interest, rent, profit and private ownership at the same time.

          We would then have an egalitarian system, which is what I believe in and struggle for.
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          Jan 19 2012: Joanne, I strongly agree that the things you listed should be opposed. What I am confused about is how supporting and arguing in favor of the very same institutions who implemented those things amounts to opposing them. If a group of people decides to implement a policy of violence and oppression against another group, one should always refuse to support that group in its endeavors. So I ask you - do you support any existing government? I have yet to find one that does not engage in violence. I thus find myself obliged to resist each and all of them.

          Do you have the courage to do the same, or will you be bought off by the noble intentions they sometimes claim (and, more rarely, achieve)? Worse yet, will you stoop to the justification that the present violence is necessary so future peace can prevail? This is the same justification used by the supporters of those things you listed.

          I ask you to take a stand on your convictions and stop collaborating with the forces you claim to oppose. You cannot decry their evils out one side of your mouth while praising their virtues out the other. Or rather you can, but it will not convince me. The only egalitarianism you can achieve by way of state violence is the one where everyone who is not equal is redefined as a non-person. If you truly want it, you have to make it real in your life through your own personal actions.
      • Jan 19 2012: Thanks Krisztián.
      • Jan 19 2012: Whoa....

        Joanne, I'm going to have to agree with Don on this one, that is if I'm reading into his latest comments correctly. If you noticed the wording in his makeshift constitution, it never once mentions property of any kind.

        This non mention of property is very important, as there is HUGE misunderstanding amongst the human race when it comes to property. Like money, IT"S NOT REAL... We need to understand that we OWN nothing, and that EVERYTHING is entrusted to us. We are all connected. The sooner we can truly comprehend this fact, the sooner we can understand that on a very basic fundamental level what is good for you is unltimately good for me, and vice versa.

        If property was real then Don and Krisztian, you would both have very real and valid arguments. You have a job. You pay your bills. You are already contributing to society by the work you do. Nobody has a right to take any of YOUR hard earned money without your consent. And let's not forget about property taxes or any other form of taxation.

        Unfortunately though, society is not always rooted in reality... Religion is a perfect example of this. The reality is that money is just about the most inefficient method of measuring time and energy ever, and property is always stolen, as somewhere along the production chain the materials to make anything comes free to us via Earth.

        It is naive of us to think that we can have any measure of ownership over any kind of property. This Earth and all of her inhabitants are here for us to respect, and to appreciate, and to love and learn about. This is what I've extrapolated from Don's makeshift constitution. How do you differ in your views Joanne?
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          Jan 19 2012: Well you are right Anthony, whether Don's constitution is a truly peaceful idea, a truly egalitarian idea, ALL hinges on his viewpoint on property. If it can be held by one group, at the expense and for the exploitation of another, then his idea suddenly loses its peaceful element.

          I have asked him to clarify it, and if I have made a mistake, I am prepared to withdraw my comments, alter them to reflect his attitude more correctly and apologise.

          If my reading was correct, then my assessment would stand and I am prepared to defend it further . I hope Don would like to engage and clarify.
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          Jan 19 2012: If it is not MY money, it is true that it is also not YOUR money. Thus the question remains, do you have the right to compel me, through force or threat of force, to surrender it to you? If you have such a right, why don't I? Perhaps I think it's necessary to build a space elevator, and that all of humanity will benefit from it. Shall I then equip myself with guns and explosives and threaten to use them against everyone who doesn't help me in this endeavor? What if my purpose instead is to eradicate Islam, by force if necessary? Is there some objective measure to determine when a supposed "social good" justifies acts of violence in its support, or the confiscation of objects from one group to the benefit of another?

          What if there was another way to live, in which violence is never tolerated or considered a legitimate solution to any problem? Surely violence would still occur, but we would at least not be labored with questions about whether it was, in this or that case, legitimate violence. And then we would get to the question of self-defense. For surely one is occasionally put in a situation, by a violent actor, in which only retaliatory violence will end the original violence. And then we might find ourselves asking only, "who initiated violence" and have no arguments over rights or property anymore, only arguments over objective, observable, determinable facts.
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          Jan 20 2012: joanne, you are damned right here. it is all about property. because it is easy to agree not to take a life, or physically hurt someone.

          but what about taking property? what about taking life savings? or a part of it? strangely, many people fall back on generalizations and obscure wording, and supports actions otherwise known as armed robbery. that is the central issue to discuss. if i take something cheap, turn it into something expensive, and then sell it on the market, can i keep the money i get for it? or someone can rightfully show up, and confiscate some of my stuff in the name of something more valuable? that is the question we need to answer.
        • Jan 20 2012: @Joanne Donovan, I just looked up "homestead principle" because I had no idea what it meant. This should give you a good idea of how new I am to openly discussing, in a public forum, or even reading other people's ideas on this subject most dear to my heart. My motive for engaging in this forum (and others on the net) now, is that for the first time in my life, thanks to the confluence of many factors, I feel like I can participate in a much bigger way towards making the world a more loving, and especially, less hostile place.

          After reviewing a few definitions of the "homestead principle," abridged here: "…one can gain ownership of a natural thing that currently has no owner by putting it to use or building something out of it." I can tell you without hesitation, I don't agree with the principle. There are so many ways that this concept fails my internal test of what seems right. I guess I can cross libertarian off of my list of possible, personal philosophies. I have always had a problem with the idea of land ownership. How can anyone claim they OWN a piece of land when the land they claim to own was likely originally obtained through murder or hostile expulsion, as is the case with many colonial nations, including the United States. Actually, I kind of thought that my sentiment on this issue would be easily observed in my description accompanying my idea for a global constitution:

          Joanne, I think I have now made it unequivocal how I feel about property. I'm not sure what reference to the 'wild west' you're referring to. I don't remember writing those words anywhere here other than my last sentence. I would appreciate your apology but what I would appreciate more is a suggestion from you on how I can share my ideas better while avoiding provoking hostility out of anyone else like you in the future. Thank you in advance.

          @Justen Robertson, thank you.
          @Anthony Bingham, thank you.
    • Jan 20 2012: @Don,
      I'm surprised I'm the only thumbs up on this idea thus far in this conversation... Am I missing something here? Is there some sort of misleading language or hidden agenda that I'm just oblivious to? Can somebody please address what parts of Don's makeshift constitution they agree or don't agree with? I'm curious to hear other viewpoints.
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    Jan 18 2012: Jason, thank you for some better clarification of the idea. Yes, yes, any mode of communication is better, and I like your last line about convincing corporations to represent us better. The only drawback to that is that corps listen to people only so long as we are buying their product. Beyond that, corps wouldn't care if they saw our bloated corpses on a riverbank. The sentiment in America today is a mistrust of government, but at the very least the idea of government is that it is the only organization built with the express purpose of representing the people.

    For me, I liken it to making the blind to see by rubbing mud in their eyes. We have to talk louder, longer, and more strident.

    OK, everybody. Let's keep these ideas flowing . . . What else we got out there?
  • Jan 18 2012: If you believe corporations have personage because they represent people then you must recognize that those represented by the corporation are double represented as they can still exercise their own vote.

    Daylight purifies, full disclosure should always be required. Then cloth congressonal representatives in their supporters brand colors like stock car drivers.

    Where are the true selfless patriots?
  • Jan 16 2012: This is the answer from a Tedx the video please about the Social Banking Network!

    The most beautiful idea I have heard of to change the world..No joke..this may bring a tear to your eye if you can grasp the implications and possibilities this idea would produce if come to fruition! Please spread this video far and wide my friends!!
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      Jan 17 2012: He is brilliant, and the idea too. Thanks Anthony.
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    Jan 16 2012: Stop buying their products

    A simple concept. Maybe easier said than done, but not impossible.
    • Jan 17 2012: I do that as much as I can. I only but gas, food and clothes for the mast part but they are hard to escape. For instance I have to pay my utilities. Thanks for the comment and I hope others take your advice also. I think people should also move their money to small bank rather than the giants.
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    Jan 16 2012: Two words. Term limits.
  • Jan 16 2012: Electronic direct democracy. No representatives to bribe, problem solved.
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    Jan 15 2012: Ever notice that the organizational development work-flow charts are essentially the same for all organizations? The real problem is not the structure but rather the quality of the representative's character.
    • Jan 16 2012: Thank you for your input, in fact I would like to thank everyone for their input. I couldn't possibly have rsponded to all the comments but did read them. You folks and you knowledge and ideas are amazing and I thank you very much.
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    Jan 15 2012: Just some facts on the German election system:
    in the federal election campaign 2009 each party received less than ONE EURO per vote from the federal budget.
    the social-democrats spend 29 mio. euro on their campaign.
    company spending and grants to politics are regulated and low today - some 25 years ago there was a great financing election campaign. after this it was changed radically.
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      Jan 18 2012: Bernd. It is very interesting that Germany has succeeded in limiting corporate influence on politics. In the US there are a lot of people saying that it is impossible to do. In fact, I think Germany is a great example at balancing private industry with government support of social programs. The country seems to have a thriving economy and still able to maintain a substantial social safety net.

      What did it take for Germans to agree upon restraints to funding? Was there much of a public debate on the issue or was the public pretty much in agreement from the beginning?
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        Jan 21 2012: There are two major pillars for the current German party financing controll system - at least in my view, I should add:
        1.) WorldWar II: US, France and UK implemented a political system which limited company influences from the very start; simply to ensure that the old, still existing Nazis business forces can not operate against the young democracy. It was also a learning that too much company power within German goverment in the 20/30 ies was a motor for war. Big Business wins by wars - since 2.000 years, nobody else.
        2.) A Party-Finance Affair in the 80ies, called the Flick-Affair. The Flick company bribed many politicians calling it "cultivation of the political landscape" to avoid a $1Billion tax payment. This was it then for big business - all rules for politicians and companies were increased once more and resulted in a high moral standard:

        Today, just in these weeks, the current president of Germany, Christian Wulff, is called to resign from his office - Wulff accepted f.e. an invitation by a german business man to make vacation in his spanish holiday home. Wulff paid the vacation, but still this is too close to business - all the press and 60% of population have the same attitude: he can not be the independent and controlling person the office demands. A Banker of the German Bundesbank once had to step down because of an overnight hotel stay invitation of 5000 euros.

        All these examples show - society is never save of corruption and greed (of course not only by companies....) Free press is absolutely necessary to hunt down illegal practices of politicians and companies.

        If you want to get rich, you should not choose to work as a politician in Germany. the german chancellor earns something around 250.000 EUROs.
    • Jan 20 2012: Hi Bernd

      It's a nice sentiment that you post here but I believe that most of the wheeling and dealing is done in the parking lot and not in the public forum to which your numbers may apply.

      So your saying the German election system is clean. No one fighting for self interests, only best interests?

      I somehow doubt that if there are people involved.

      Maybe I missed your point. Haha (it happens a lot)
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        Jan 21 2012: german democracy is as all democrarcy, including the flaws - all social groups fitting for their interests and personal advantages.

        I was just writing on the party financing system and its better controll of company influences in comparison to Italy or the USA. As you see from the post above it is however not a world of good guys behaving brave.... the German system is far from perfect, it just has some mistakes less...

        The Occupy movement from US had a great positive influence on German public and protests just last year against a Railroad-Building Plan in Stuttgart - which was a great cover up of business and politics against the population, google. "Stuttgart21". the population started occupying the building sites and asf for months.... it resulted in a live-stream-parliament debate reviewing the whole project in over 20 working group sessions - changing the project and adapting it to the needs of the population. Of course - there are still unsatisfied protesters - but I just want to give you an example of the large conflicts and little progress.

        it stays a constant fight to keep the selfish interests , which are desctructive to a society, in limits - and to florish the selfish interests, which are positive for society. this is just as difficult....
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    Jan 14 2012: A timely issue, James. Here's how I see it, specifically about the US:
    The problem is Congress, which is the real center of power. (The President has very little power compared with Congress - just notice where lobbyists spend their time.)
    Two problems with Congress are at fault: 1. Extreme partisanship, which has made Congress incapable of acting for the common good, and 2. Election campaign financing, which has made Congress corrupt.
    These two hang together. From the start, a member of Congress has one main concern: his/her reelection. And his/her party has the same interest: winning the next election. The party "in opposition" - as the Republicans are now - tries to ensure this by making the President and his party in Congress fail. In other words - incredible as it sounds, the opposition party's mission is to make the US government look bad and fail.
    At the same time, elections are expensive under our system of private funding. Lobbyists know this, and offer money to members of Congress to reach their personal goal - their reelection. All they want in return is "understanding." This is corruption, pure and simple. Every member of Congress who takes corporate money for campaign financing is corrupt, and it's about time we recognize this and say it clearly: Our election system is totally corrupt. Congress is totally corrupt.

    Yet, power is still in the hands of the people. What we need to do, in November this year, is to throw out all Reps and Dems from Congress and elect no-one but independents who are committed to reform, specifically: public financing of elections, term limits for Congress, and all meetings of members of Congress with interest groups to be held in public sessions, recorded and published. Remarkably, such a revolutionary change is very easy to achieve: It only requires that each of us vote for an independent!

    More on this at and

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      Jan 17 2012: Paul - I think your suggestion for “public financing of elections, term limits for Congress, and all meetings of members of Congress with interest groups to be held in public sessions, recorded and published” really does hit the core of the problem. If we could just tip the balance back toward government representing people (i.e. - the non-corporate variety), then the details will work themselves out.

      What baffles me is why the Tea Party doesn’t see things this way. This really should be an issue that liberals and conservatives would share.
    • Jan 18 2012: Hi Paul
      I agree, the only way to have change is to elect a third party, that being independents. I believe we are going to have a larger voter turnout than we have ever had before and this is the perfect time for that change. Completely off topic but needing to be said is how government thinks they own things, they don't own anything, we own it all. It was all paid for with our tax dollars, from a car to the military to a National Park, we own it.
    • Jan 18 2012: It's the age of communication, how come we can't have a national debate on issues instead of these guys? It is possible to have a national debate and perhaps from these debates policies would be produced in favor of the people. Of course this idea is far fetched but is possible.
    • Jan 18 2012: Vote policy
      Not party
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    Jan 14 2012: Publically funded elections are the answer. Politicians get their salary....that's all. They get on the ballot by having a certain number of verified signatures depending on the office. Gov't pays them a pension the rest of their life and they CANNOT ever work, in any manner, for anyone else. Their retirement income is limited to book writing, speaking engagements and their pension. Their net worth, bank accounts, income taxes and travel are published annually.
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    Jan 13 2012: Great question? Will come back with a more considered comment after reading others. First thoughts:

    Corporate influence seems to be particularly out of balance in the US from my understanding. Particularly when representatives and senators push policies that favour the corporations and end up working for them later.

    Corporations may be given some of the same rights as people, but at least they they can't stand for parliament or vote. Money seems to be the problem. Main parties benefit from donations. Individual politicians also benefit. Suggest limiting donations to a say a $10,000 cap per person or entity. Vested interest would argue that this limits a democratic right, but no right is absolute. They are or should be all balanced in law against other rights and principles. Uncapped donations distort democracy. I note even life and liberty are not given free rein in the US with the death penalty etc.

    Perhaps ex representatives should have temporary bans, say 5 years, from working in sectors related to their policy making portfolios.

    In the end, voters need to make more noise and hopefully politicians will see they can get votes if they start to address this issue.
  • Jan 11 2012: I believe the real key is to understand that the collective state of any group (state, country, family) is the sum of each member's own thought patterns, and ethics. These are the things that drive individual behavior. The best and most moral thing anyone member of a group can do is to perfect himself and in so doing, set an example for the others to follow. As Sir William Cooper put it, our government is a group of payed hit men we hire to do our dirty work. We need to move away from ANY kind of coercion and focus on our own development.
  • Jan 11 2012: The only practical way is to employ a scientific method so that decisions are determined by what is best for the country through testing and statistics, rather than what the side with the money wants.
    Tough imprisonable restrictions on law makers would help too, forcing the voters and presenters of the bills to be randomly required to explain exactly why the bill should be passed and their reasoning for it in depth, failure would help demonstrate that the person is not presenting/agreeing with the law for legitimate reasons.
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    Jan 25 2012: The challenge is the opposite/inverse. How do we insure that we get Governments out of businesses. This means that discretionary powers that allow exception must be eliminated to tackle this scourge. In simple term this means creating more and more transparency through data, which is easier for all to see and out in public domain. Changing politicians or business ethics is a waste of time. AS we have seen last for more than a decade one or two rotten apples can bring down governments, economies and corporations. Transparency is created by design and process. It is an involuntary process that generates the data/information within the process design.
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      Jan 25 2012: yesssss :)

      how nice is that! the conversation started with me saying this, and now it ends with the same statement. i like symmetry :)
    • Jan 25 2012: Hi Uday
      I said the same thing in one of my posts. What we need is to get corporations out of government and government out of corporations. The two working together is a financial nightmare for all.
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    Jan 25 2012: Great conversation you started James. I invite you all to continue it here: (or start a new conversation at weDialog if you wish).

    (posts won’t be deleted. threads go to unlimited depth. conversations will continue indefinitely. conversation initiator defines the parameters).

    Hope to see you there.
    • Jan 25 2012: Thank you so much Tim, this is a conversation that needs to continue. People have a lot of ideas and they are all helpful and we can learn from them. Together we can create our representative republic again, we just have to come out and share ideas and start the process. I hope that people take action with their words and start to get invoved in writing their representatives to speak about what's wrong and help make it right. Senate bill 1867 is what really scares me, I'm afraid that if we do come out and show our discontent with the government, we will be detained. We need to be peaceful and show in mass to get anything to change, we need to voice our message just as we have done on this sight. Thanks again!
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    Jan 25 2012: I have the same opinion with you !
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    Jan 25 2012: Lawrence Lessig addresses this in the following video:
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    Jan 25 2012: John Michael Greer, in his wonderful _The Wealth of Nature_ talks about enacting the equivalent of prison and death sentences for felonious corporations; the first by the state taking over a corporation's operations, and profits, for a set length of time, the latter by disbanding the corporation so sentenced, at the shareholders expense.
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    Jan 25 2012: One step might be to transform corporations from a one dollar:one vote format to a one owner:one vote. This would be more democratic.
    It could be argued that this interferes with the private contract between shareholder and corporation, but in taking the form of a corporation, favored as corporations are by government, the contract involves the public, and so can be changed by our representatives.
    Shareholders not liking one owner:one vote could form unincorporated partnerships, etc. with a one dollar:one vote format, but we, as our government, are under no obliigation to continue to favor, in licencing as corporations, these less democratic arrangements.
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    Jan 24 2012: Your mind can rationalize anything.
    • Jan 25 2012: It can't rationalize what's happening to this country.
  • Jan 24 2012: I have gained some insights from other points of view from this topic. I hope it spills over into the other conversations or continues to a new one.

    The Beatles told us; "We can work it out" (he just didn't include John in the We)

    Thanks again James for your commitment to action.
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    Jan 24 2012: What do you mean by judicious use of the resources available? We do have a conscious and that is a very important resource, we do have an immagination, we do have free will to make choices of which every choice we make is our expression of Heaven on Earth. So what resources are you referring to? Gas, Oil, food, etc...change is inevitable yet transformation is optional. Transformation is what we are asking for in this dialogue and any transformation requires a change in consciousness. Therefore, how will you change the consciousness of corporations, government officials, bankers, the 1%, without first a change in your own consciousness. Consider your mind can rationalize anything. To talk about gas, oil, food etc... your attempting to solve a problem at the level of thinking which created it.
  • Jan 23 2012: I agree Ralph, we need more people writing their legisltor as many of us do. We need everyone to do it to see change.
  • Jan 23 2012: If you can't limit the influence of the corporate lobbyists then you must increase the influence of the people's lobbyists. The Occupy Movement is great for increasing public awareness but what is the action being taken behind the awareness? Most large corporations will make contributions to both candidates so they will be favored regardless of who wins. It is their lobbyists that actually write the laws they want passed and submit them to the politicians with all the perks needed to get the job done. In my opinion we will only be able to reduce the influence of corporations by limiting their financial contributions and having a strong counter lobbyists center. At a grassroots level it is going to take more communication from the individual constituents.
  • Jan 22 2012: Mardshall had a sharp mind, but hios decisions were not "without fail". He was a federalist, and hios decisions were usually chosen to further his federalist intent. The founders, both federalists and anti-federalists, had a good working knowledge of history, and could for the most part present far better arguments than we can today. The problem here is that the constitutio n is the "law of the land" for federal interpretations, but it is not actually what the founders recognized as "law of the land". That law was in fact the common law, over which the federal government had no jurisdiction. That is still the way it stands, even if being ignored. This is not merely legal theory, this is historical fact, as i stated from historical documents and decisions. Your argument still amounts to straw man, whether intended or not.
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    Jan 22 2012: Instead of asking

    How do we get corporations out of governments ?


    How do we get governments out of corporations ?

    And then change stuff.
    • Jan 23 2012: Hi Maxime
      I want government out of corporations also, but also corporations out of government. The two would operate more for the people if seperated. Thank you for your comment.
  • Jan 21 2012: @ Justen

    ""I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, to be honest. What are you getting at? What alternative do you suggest?""

    The point I am making is that you make a lot of claims. Long, multiple post claims that suggest, if we do what you do, we will find our way out of this mess. You seem to be talking from the point of view that you have answers when it is clear to me that if anyone had answers, we wouldn't have anything to discuss here.

    A lot of this mess is created while we are trying to make things better and people are less barbaric now than just 500 years ago. Governments, corporations, free markets all are made of people who get along better now than in the past. This is growth and I am optimistic.

    Also I am not prepared to offer my suggestions as they have all been brought up, discussed, praised, criticized. Every suggestion I make is exactly right to some but way off the mark for others. Understanding this truth is crucial when deciding what"s the right thing to do.

    You mention and are a member of groups that not everyone can get into and that is where I draw the line. We are already members of a group and any suggestion of separation is an invitation to war.

    ""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.""

    How condescending. That is what I'm talking about. That is my point.

    Everyone is both the problem and the solution. Not only do I not need permission, I do not have a choice. Nor does anyone else.
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    Jan 21 2012: Well I think I've said all I wanted to say here, spent more time than I probably should have at it, and exhausted my ability to contribute anything productive to the conversation. Thanks everyone for the input and conversation, apologies if I left anything unresolved, have a good weekend :)
  • Jan 20 2012: As it stands now, our government is built on legalized corruption. Corporations, interest groups, wealthy individuals, and unions all buy and sell politicians with their vast sums of money. The needs of the people come second hand to the needs of campaign donors.

    We should stop ALL private campaign spending and donations ranging from corporations and unions to interest groups and individual people. If we only stop Corporations from giving campaign donations, interest groups and wealthy CEOs would still be able to exert influence over politicians with their money. But if we stop them from donating money, it would only be fair to stop everybody as well or else they would have an unfair advantage, so unions shouldn't be allowed to donate money or environmental groups or even Joe the plummer.

    Politicians should be given a set amount of money provided by the government and that is all the money they would be allowed to use in their campaign; this way they wouldn't owe their souls to anybody except the voters - the people the government are supposed to serve. Ideas should run the system, not money.
    • Jan 20 2012: Congressman need many advisers to do their jobs. Too often their advisers come baring large sums of money. Taking the money away from the process would only facilitate other means of affecting influence, because it doesn't affect the incentive of Corporations to affect influence - only the means by which they could do it legally. Corporations would continue to seek the positions of policy makers and would continue to sway the votes of those positions they couldn't fill. Even without money in the equation, large corporations could still find ways to monopolize the time of Congressman enough that our policy makers would not have the necessary advisement on a non-biased public need. I don't believe that Congressman should be allowed to profit from a position of public trust, this is fundamentally a conflict of interest. I think that an open/public forum is the only equitable means by which influence should be asserted on policy makers, but we would have to establish it so that speakers in this forum aren't career representatives and are very frequently elected by an open democratic process to represent interested groups or organizations.
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        Jan 20 2012: Joshua makes a good point: everybody pretends as if laws, once passed, are actually followed. There is a thing called sovereign immunity. Governments are only liable for their breaches of law if they feel like being liable (which, unsurprisingly, is very rarely). If you can get elected today you can worry about the law tomorrow, when you have the power to ignore it. Laws are broken by politicians and aspiring politicians all the time, often flagrantly. Another law is not what you need.

        In fact the whole premise of law is in contracts - agreements between two parties that bind them to a certain course of action. But contracts rely on the honesty and good intentions of both parties; or, failing that, the power of some third party to intervene and enforce the agreement. Who intervenes and enforces a contract between you and a government official? Nobody. Your government has already declared itself the sole arbiter and provider of enforcement services for you. You have no resort when the government fails except violence (which is what you set out to avoid in the first place). If your government is full of crooks, which appears to be the case, they cannot be bound by good will and noble intentions.
  • Jan 20 2012: As long as the Federal Government sets policy and regulation that directly affects business in this country Corporations will have an interest in what those policies and regulations are. Corporations are driven by profit and thus the incentives for business to gain favor within the systems of policy will always be a prevalent force which will continually seek to affect policy in their favor. The formation of Corporations is a result of both the efficiency of scale and the pragmatism of expenditure: as long as Corporations are driven by the bottom line the incentive to affect policy will remain. However, the bottom line is not the end all measure of progress or growth, it is an indicator, but the capacity of a Corporation to service need or provide innovation should also be considered. * What if politicians were beating down the doors of Corporations to offer research projects and business opportunities because Government created incentives for research and development ahead of regulatory policy? Billions and possibly Trillions of dollars are spent each year to affect policy so that Corporations can secure a competitive advantage in the market, the field-of-play is in influence, but if the playing field was in research, and development and incentives and influence were granted through innovation and efficiency, the expenditures in influence would be spent in pioneering research that would benefit everyone. The problem is not how do we get Corporations out of Government, but though what policy can we encourage Corporations to innovate instead of influence. If we can encourage Corporations in this way and discourage Government from creating competitive disadvantages for innovators I believe that a Corporation, which is in essence a great tool, would serve mankind and not the just the bottom line.
    • Jan 20 2012: I must admit Joshua, you bring something new to the discussion. Thank you. I am going to have to think about it a bit!
      • Jan 20 2012: What if the price of influence increased so much that no corporation could afford it? The price of innovation would be less than the price of influence to gain a competitive advantage. A regulation is a reaction to a problem, and I think Congress should be proactive in solving problems. i.e. Carbon Emissions - instead of setting regulations on carbon emissions - congress could only offer incentives to companies that are Carbon Zero. This alone could inspire corporations to innovate. So how do we increase the price of influence? By becoming the conscious of Congress as one voice so loud it cannot be ignored?
  • Jan 20 2012: I'm familiar with Hartmann's work. Back in the 80s, I was the organzing editor of a worldwide economics discussion group. I was emphasizing many of the same points as Hartmann, though at that time I had't studied actual court cases. At that time, as far as i k new , I was the only one emphasizing such policies against corporate personhood.
  • Jan 20 2012: Justen, that't the biggest crock of hooey I ever heard. When you make statements, how about proving them?
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      Jan 20 2012: Sorry, I know that the restriction on reply depth make this difficult, but what are you referring to? Washington? Several good books have been written on the subject, but the claims I made are not disputed by anything other than gradeschool history teachers in the United States. The American revolutionaries were just ordinary people who had become fed up with a government unresponsive to their needs; nothing more. To put them up on pedestals is unkind to their true legacy and unwise if you want to understand history and politics.

      Some of them were exceptionally sharp; Franklin and Jefferson are my favorites there. Others were merely clever and opportunistic. Washington was neither of those things. He was a straightforward person who preferred action to words and lost more battles than he won, at horrific cost to his men. He was your friendly, if witless, veteran neighbor put in an undesirable situation and making the best of it - not because he was the ideal candidate, but because he was the best suited to it from amongst the people available. He was a regular guy that people felt comfortable trusting their lives to. It was up to his peers to be the philosophers, the strategists, the tacticians; he didn't have it in him.

      If you don't agree, I challenge you to go find one pamphlet or essay written by Washington that was instrumental in sparking the revolution. I challenge you to go research the history of his battles and point out moments of strategic brilliance which he originated. The former simply don't exist; the latter are few and far between. To pretend otherwise is to make a cruel caricature of the man, and in so doing denigrate others like him by suggesting they can't compare. It does a disservice to anybody who has ever wanted to make a difference in the world, by saying "aha, but you are not like these great men, you don't have it in you". That is a much deeper crime than failing to give due reverence to long-dead historical figures.
      • Jan 21 2012: Justen, noweher in any of my statemet on history did I mention Washington. This is what is known as the straw man fallacy. Look at my references: St George Tucker, a very smart man. Joseph Story, brilliant in his understanding of law, I cited "Dartmouth v Woodward" with decisin rendered by Chief John Marshall, whom no legal scholar would call 'slow".

        Further, I cited Blackstone, and the understanding of men such as Madison, Hamilton, and Adams, among others read and practiced. I give you references from history, written by its most brilliant men, and you argue about Washington. That is classic straw man. Who caes what Washington said? As for franklin, he, along with james Wilson and Madison, tried to ceate a federal corporation for internal improvements, which the colonists quickly shot down. I' ve seen nothing frm you to counter my statements except a focus on Washington, whom we both agree offered little except as figurehead.
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          Jan 21 2012: I'm not attempting making a straw man at all, I was giving a single example. You made a statement and I wasn't sure what you were referring to, so I guessed. You're right in that *some* of the early historical figures were very intelligent. I agree there - like I said, I like Jefferson and Franklin (despite the latter's political opinions which we both apparently find foul he made many interesting scientific and technological contributions). Marshall's judiciary opinions were also very interesting and poignant, almost without fail.

          But there are many, many brilliant people on earth today, and an intervening couple hundred years of science and social development permitting us, I argue, to outperform the best efforts of both the brilliant and mediocre from yesteryear.
  • Jan 20 2012: @Joanne Donovan, I just looked up "homestead principle" because I had no idea what it meant. This should give you a good idea of how new I am to openly discussing, in a public forum, or even reading other people's ideas on this subject most dear to my heart. My motive for engaging in this forum (and others on the net) now, is that for the first time in my life, thanks to the confluence of many factors, I feel like I can participate in a much bigger way towards making the world a more loving, and especially, less hostile place.

    After reviewing a few definitions of the "homestead principle," abridged here: "…one can gain ownership of a natural thing that currently has no owner by putting it to use or building something out of it." I can tell you without hesitation, I don't agree with the principle. There are so many ways that this concept fails my internal test of what seems right. I guess I can cross libertarian off of my list of possible, personal philosophies. I have always had a problem with the idea of land ownership. How can anyone claim they OWN a piece of land when the land they claim to own was likely originally obtained through murder or hostile expulsion, as is the case with many colonial nations, including the United States. Even the concept that anyone ever owned the land to begin with. I kind of thought that my sentiment on this issue would be easily gleaned from my description accompanying the idea for a global constitution

    Joanne, I think I have now made it unequivocal how I feel about property. I'm not sure what reference to the 'wild west' you're referring to. I don't remember writing those words anywhere here other than my last sentence. I would appreciate your apology but what I would appreciate more is a suggestion from you on how I can share my ideas better while avoiding provoking hostility out of anyone else like you in the future. Thank you in advance.

    @Justen Robertson, thank you.
    @Anthony Bingham, thank yo
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      Jan 21 2012: Well my dear you have my apology, unreservedly and I would like to hear more about your ideas.

      I hope you continue to participate in these discussions. They can get heated, people feel passionately about certain things, especially around human rights issues, as you yourself clearly do. Personally I feel this is a positive thing Don. An idea can be a very powerful and dangerous thing.

      We have plenty of examples of how ideas have risen to form laws and policies that have caused untold suffering. I see that in history all dangerous movements began as ideas, they began in a discussion. I do not think we should flinch from struggling against ideas we percieve as wrong.

      I come on TED to exchange ideas but also to learn. To challenge but also to be challenged. Its a wonderful forum. I have never felt hostility from anyone although I have been in some fairly intense debates. If you do feel, though that some one is being less than nice, and it is encroaching on your right to discuss your ideas freely, there is the little flag button on the right hand side of the comment section. The moderator will look at the comments and remove them if he/she thinks the comment is too over the top.
      • Jan 21 2012: Joanne, thank you for the truly unnecessary apology! I never took personally your apparent hostility. My reference to appreciating an apology from you was based on a comment you had made about if you found out that your presumption about me was wrong, you would apologize. I should have said it was unnecessary, but again, thank you.

        I will continue to share. I'm happy to have the opportunity. I am a big believer in the power of ideas. In fact, I arrived at the understanding that it is the most accessible power on Earth a little while back. My formula for expressing human potential is: Ideas x personal commitment = impact.
  • 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.

    New political and economical union for countries having borders at the north arctic circle.

    Economical development with new electronical currency based on basked of existing currencies including the $ US, $ Canadian and the Norwigian krona. The currency should be supported by central banks within the nordic region.

    The North arctic is opening for business with plenty of opportunities in natural resources, shipping including transport for vessels through the arctic waters and airplanes crusing over the artic region will be covered.

    Economical powers are highly depended on markets found by linking together the West and the East through the north arctic. Some of world biggest corporation in shipping, mining etc. have already opened for global business.

    The corporations have total control over where their investment is going and they control the money flow from the resources they are exploring. These companies have no obligation to any political body when moving human resources around or paying taxes and tarrifs related to their production. The only rule of governance are the law of the sea. This is not sufficient because of number related activities on shore such as building of power plants and transmission of electrical power from north to south across the ocean sea floor.

    Global warming has accelerated those activities in the north arctic and sustainable legal framwork for citizens within societies in the region such as economical and environmental security does not exist.
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    Jan 20 2012: I agree that a return to a Constitutional Government is necessary. There are four areas that the federal is responsible for. At the same time I submit that in order to regain some control over the situation we need term limits to help stop the corruption. When politics become a profession the elected started voting in their own interests ( raises, perks, etc ). As an example the democratic congress voted in a national health package (refered to as Obamacare) and at the same time voted that congress and the executive branch were exempt. All laws, rules, and policies should apply to ALL citizens including Congress and the Executive Branch. When a return to a Coinstitutional government occurs then the influence of lobbists and corporations and large donors such as George Soros will go away. Two years ago the administration made 32 new czars and last week publically announced that they seek to reduce government. I use this as an example of politics at election time. It is up to you the voter to decide where the truth is and what lies have been fed to us. If you think we have problems now, examine what comes with socialism the perfered means of the administration. I use these examples because they are easily verified not as an attack on the administration.

    The OCW movement was very confusing as everyone had a seperate agenda. It was originally in support of the Presidents attack on the 1%. That does not hold water. The tax laws protect their money through tax attorneys. If those laws are revoked or ammended they will move the money off shore or move their companies elsewhere. If that happens then dependency on the government is one of the few options left. Thus Socialism.
  • Jan 19 2012: Is it practical to think about political games where the majority playing? No

    Its the riches playing the game...and they are always there,

    The game looks more interesting when there are opposing wealthy men on either side,

    If we have to live i capitalism, i think its a must that those strong hands decide the fate of public administration.

    But lets be positive, corporations are key to economy. Its the political system that needs check up....
  • Jan 19 2012: A bit of history on corporations. They are a creation of civil law, not common law. Blackstone points out that common law does nt recognize the authority of civil law. Corporations actually achieved "personhood" by a process of "christening" or "baptism" into English commion law by the king of England(Blackstone). Once this occured, they became "persons" in a collective sense.

    Since the US does not recognize the king, corporate personhood is abandoned for two reasons:
    1.The colonists embraced common law as their birthright, not civil law(Declaratio of Rights 1774), and SCOTUS does not have general jurisdiction over common law. Since "due process" refers to common law(see Commentaries of Justice Joseph Story) the fifth amendment due process clause cannot refer to corporations as "persons" becaus SCOTUS has no power to "baptize' them i nto common, since it has no jurisdiction over common law. Also see "United States vs Aaron Burr".

    These are points well understood by the founders(see "Original meanings" by Jack Rakove), but they have been ignored or deliberately construed in opposition to original intentions. In "Dart mouth v Woodward" for example, Chief Justice Marshall pointed out that Dartmouth College had every right tio "personhood" because it had been appointed so by the king before the revolution, and the treaty with England allowed it to remain so. That, however, did NOT grant any power of the courts to grant personhood.
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      Jan 19 2012: This is a very nice legal and historical theory, but would your opinion or your rational conclusion be changed if the legal environment were different? Or are you convinced that your philosophy regarding corporate personhood is wholly independent of the choices and proclamations of dead men? Are we really no better than our forefathers, such that we must argue over their opinions of the problem rather than its substance?
      • Jan 20 2012: What i wrote are the understandings of the founders, who wriote the constitution based on their experience regarding banks, corporations, and paper money. Their understanding was well founded in history, ad they were much smarter than we are, apparently. That is the foundational principles of the constitution(see Comentaries of St. George Tucker)
        Either we stick to the constitution or not, but if we're not, I'd be happy to live my life on my own terms.
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          Jan 20 2012: Some of them may have been smarter than some of us. Some of them were certainly not as smart as most of us (for instance, Washington was known to be a bit of a dullard and made no significant intellectual contributions to the revolutionary movement, besides being a rather horrible military commander). I'm only suggesting that hero worship is misguided. For my part I'm no more interested in sticking to the constitution than I am in sticking to the Bible. I dare to believe that over the course of centuries we have gathered enough new information to make better decisions than our predecessors. :)
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      Jan 20 2012: Ralph - have you seen Thom Hartmann’s talk on this topic?

      Would appreciate your opinion of it if you get a chance to watch it.
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        Jan 20 2012: The funny thing is that most of us seem to realize how retarded the notion of "corporate personhood" is, don't we? We don't need brilliant people in sharp suits explaining the concept to us :) It takes law or faith to turn the absurd into the unquestionable.
  • Jan 18 2012: How do we get corporations out of government.

    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.

    What you are asking for means less money for the corporations, So you are asking for money.

    I am not taking a side in that comment, just calling it like it really is.
  • Jan 17 2012: Hey James.
    I want to apologize if it seemed like I offended you in any way and I do know the role that Occupy is. What my reflection really ment was that no politician (that I've heard) has even bothered thinking about listening to this movement. Albeit not being that active in the Swedish Occupy movement I sent a mail to our finance minister, who replied quite simply that Occupy is more of a teenage revolt than an actual movement.

    What I want to point out is that we must, like you and me right now are doing, bring other possibilities/discussion to front. America is having two big parties but still it would be interesting to see a new Occupy party... I know the problems that would follow out of that, but just to show that it is possible to do governing in a new way. The question you have posted is a very good one and we can see from the comments that this is something people care about.

    In this sense you have already done a little part of getting corporations out of government, showing your dissatisfaction with how things are today. Keep up with that and thanks for taking your time to answer this!
    • Jan 17 2012: Hi Peter
      Your comment didn't in any way offend me and it is nice to see how much people care about this subject. The media isn't giving us a fair shake when it comes to their reporting of our movement however. We are people of all different backgrounds aged from 18 to 70. It's not a bunch of kids like they say. Many of us work full time and some do not but we are not what they make us out to be. Thanks again.
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    Jan 17 2012: in getting government out of corporations.
    I am shure, if you would have to stop or pause all corporate jobs or activities, as long as you are making decisions in government, and you would not be allowed, to hold any positions in companies, during this periode, it would solve many of the problems, we have.
    (here in europe)
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    Jan 16 2012: not possible.
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    Jan 16 2012: Easy, dont feed them with your greedy instinct of consumption.
  • Jan 16 2012: I'd love for everyone to weigh in on my newly posted idea.
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    Jan 15 2012: I must complain the big corporations in China.In China,the big corporations are contorl by contury.Maybe it is a good idae for getting rid of commercial monopoly.Like what you said,"the government represents the big corporations".In ur contury,the corporations represent the contury,and the government must protect their interest.
    Neither of those are bad for the people.But i think it won`t change in a short time.Because the government,the contury are running base on in-coming of society.AND most of them are come from the big corporation.The government must give priority to the corporations` interest.
    • Jan 15 2012: Jiang
      I think the government in your country and mine should represent the people of our country. Without us and our labor the corporations would not exist.
  • Jan 15 2012: The first way I meant corporations were out of government would that, it was not allowed its support to political partys.
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    Jan 14 2012: The source of corruption is money and scarcity, if you have abundance for all there would be no point for corruption,
    Here is some videos Explaining Exactly how you solve this problem.
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      Jan 20 2012: The Venus Project. Another intriguing theory with a high level of coherence but no actual working model to prove it right.
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        Jan 20 2012: I actually disagree there. I've been down that rabbit hole, right to the bottom, and found nothing but hot air. It's just another one of those "if we can just get everybody to do things our way we can solve all the world's problems" scheme. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?
        • Jan 20 2012: There is something that Venus Project address but doesn't fully articulate to my satisfaction and that is the power of collaboration in an Open Source platform in the transition from our current system. I am certain that a cohesive and objective global Open Source movement by volunteers has the power to grow into the Venus Project. And here is why: 1. The technology to create Civilization 2.0 is possible, and will be developed from the voluntary collaboration of scientist and engineers that attempt to solve issues with greater efficiency, fewer resources, and with faster technological development than that which develops in our current free market capitalistic model. - Groups like Open Source Ecology (GVCS), R&D-I-Y, Omega Garden, are already developing the initial technology to make it not only possible but a necessity because they have proven that greater Industrial productivity can be achieved with fewer resources and faster concept to prototype speed. 2. If the technology exists to supply the need of an ever-growing population in the public domain - entrepreneurs that "do more with less" will lead the forming economic model with profits feeding the Open Source Model and fueling ever-greater collaboration. As profits increase enough, Open Source Universities and more and more Open Source communities will emerge until they blossom into cities. I am entirely convinced that collaboration is the product of communication, that the Open Source Movement is the product of collaboration, that the Open Source Village will emerge from that movement which will evolve through the efficiency of scale and access to knowledge into a City which will inspire innovators and scientist until all scientific advancement is conducted in on an Open Source platform for the benefit of all man kind. VP is not a model to be proven or "hot air" it is the logical product of collaboration with compassion for humanity at its core.
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        Jan 20 2012: Joshua my main philosophical objection to the Venus Project is that it commits the typical fallacy of imagining one big central system with (no doubt) the guy who came up with it at the helm.

        As to the practical, the thing about Peter Joseph Merola and his big zeitgeist/VP speeches is that he doesn't actually know what he's talking about, as anybody with software or engineering backgrounds could probably tell you. Surrounding himself with people who do is great, but it will require abandoning some fantasies he has (and as I understand it, it has already done so). Likewise Jacques Fresco, who makes a lot of big claims, particularly about having a mysterious algorithm that will solve the economic calculation problem and usher us into a new age of perfect efficiency.

        Once you've been in the software industry for a while you get a nose for vaporware, and he stinks to high hell of it. An algorithm that a single human being is capable of keeping and modeling in his brain is certainly not a difficult thing to implement. A basic programming language necessary to create a proof of concept takes weeks to learn. The fact that he has not, in his 30 years of telling tall tales, done so tells me he doesn't have it and hasn't the faintest idea how to get it. To a software engineer, let alone a student of economics, this claim of his is the same as people who claim to have invented infinite free energy devices or faster than light travel. If he did know how to do what he says he can do, he would have done it, because such an algorithm would be enough to make him rich beyond his wildest dreams (which, one presumes, he would expend on making the Venus Project a reality). I must assume he's a charlatan until he does what I know from experience is not complicated to do, if he has the knowledge he claims to have.
        • Jan 21 2012: You are mistaken in your assertion that any one man would be at the helm in this system, on the contrary, Fresco asserts that the scientific process itself would govern the decisions of the community as a whole which would be simultaneously centralized and decentralized with democratic overview. Also the Venus Project has distanced itself from Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist movement, because as I understand it, ZM focuses too much on the pitfalls of our current system while Fresco is primarily concerned with how a post scarcity society would function. Keep in mind Fresco is an Industrial designer and Social Planner not a software engineer; I think he is in his 90's, as far as I know anyone over 40 has a tough time with software in general including futurists. Kidding aside; Fresco has spent a lot of time building relationships with scientist and engineers and I would assume that they have already roughed out how a algorithm to manage supply and demand would work. Very little attention was given to how the transition would occur. Fresco asserts that collective suffering and the absence of purchasing power would cause a Global Implementation. I find Open Source a better candidate for this. Finally if society were to develop a post scarcity society it could most defiantly operate without any so called "free energy" devices; there is enough energy in GeoThermal to supply the world with energy possibly indefinably not to mention Thorium research that would undoubtedly develop out of a scientific community. We are already seeing technology emerge with efficiency magnitudes ahead of what has been currently adopted globally. My assertion is that as technology and communication improve civilization will take on a form in which a monetary system is obsolete, and the needs of society will be met with such great efficiency by technology requiring very little human attention. And, I believe that this technology will emerge out of an Open Source, collaborative effort.
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        Jan 20 2012: All that wouldn't be a big problem except that the whole Venus Project is hung around the assumption that the calculation problem is solvable. Without that algorithm you cannot have a central AI or database or "cybernet" (haha) which can perfectly regulate production. Without that, all you have is a lot of very cool projects (like OSE) that have nothing to do with VP but which have been inexplicably claimed by it.

        When you say the VP is the "logical conclusion" of all this stuff, I say that's an interesting claim. I think the more likely logical conclusion of all this stuff is the distributed, decentralized, individualized world I imagine, not the shining megacities of the VP with their benevolent AIs and post-market economies. But I don't know that for a fact and I don't have the arrogance to claim that I do. It could be something in between, or something altogether different.

        Venus Project members (and I meet a lot of them in the circles I travel) frequently demand that, if I have a better solution than they do, I should join the Venus Project and convince everybody of it. They create a dichotomy between "the Venus Project or nothing". As if they're the only people thinking about any problems, let alone solving them. This I find a little disturbing, to be honest. At best it sounds masturbatory; after all, if my way is the best way, will not the Venus Project discover this in time through reason and logic? Isn't that their whole thing? Why do I need to go chat about it with a bunch of people that, as far as I can tell, have yet to deliver a single product? At worst it sounds (and I know you guys hate this) a little culty.

        In the meanwhile, I intend to get on with it. A few afternoons spent chatting is good now and then, but it's warming up and soon enough I'll have a garden to plant, and I always have more code to write and gadgets to tinker with. I'm sure if I come up with anything useful to the VP they'll claim it as their own soon enough.
        • Jan 21 2012: I really love the Jeffersonian Ideal of a completely sustainable Agrarian model with cybernetic fab lab factories that can reside in a tool shed that are decentralized and individualistic, but I genuinely feel that what you imagine would exist in parallel with the Venus Project type cities, but as someone who lived outside the cities you would have some stewardship/revitalization responsibilities. And, as transportation technologies develop you would be able to go anywhere and choose however you wanted to live.
        • Jan 21 2012: Justen,Allow me to first convey my feelings of Peace, Love, and Respect for you and all of your opinions and ideas. By reading your posts I wouldn't call it a stretch to assume that you a very well read, intelligent, and competent human being. That being said, you may soon find that your theories on property and society are no more than just that... Theories. Such is the way of Einstein's theory of relativity, your theories, and therefore any assertions thereafter cannot hold up to scrutiny when you start to dig a little deeper.

          You say that when it comes to land and ideas, and other such "abstractions" one has no right to claim ownership. I agree. However, you go on to say that when it comes to physical objects that one has created, or objects that one has "obtained through voluntary exchange with others" ownership then becomes a right. I disagree. How can one own property without the ownership of land? Does not everything we use in order to create anything come from land? Are our ideas not manifested through means of communication? Who decides where you build things such as gardens, and houses, and wells if nobody owns the land upon which they are built? Where do you gather the material needed to build such things? How do your theories hold up after these inquiries?

          I feel like these are just some of the inconsistencies that negate most of your arguments in this conversation. Please feel free to correct me if I'm just misinterpreting what you are trying to convey.
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        Jan 21 2012: Anthony: I don't think that the ownership of land need actually be at issue in your questions. Certainly the things we have come from earth and air and water, but those are physical. A piece of "real estate" is a square drawn on a map, an abstraction that describes everything within a two- or three-dimensional geographical space as belonging to a person.

        How does one gain ownership? Ordinarily, not simply by pointing at it and saying "that's mine", much less by pointing at a picture of it and saying "the thing that picture represents is mine". Most theories of property don't start that way. The Lockean view is that one must "mix one's labor" in order to gain ownership of something. You have to take something that hasn't already been taken by someone else and *do* something with it for it to be yours. That's at the root of most theories of personal property and many theories of real property. Other theories of real property start with an ultimate or default owner - usually the state or the church - from whence the chain of ownership begins. Obviously I reject that entirely.

        I say dispense with the abstraction. It's easy enough to establish a claim of ownership through Lockean means without resorting to drawing squares on maps. If you want to do something with a rock, go do it. You don't need to "put it on reserve" in case you want to do something with it later. If you're not the first to do it, no biggie. There's lots of rocks out there, lots of plots of dirt, plenty of trees. Take it when you're ready to use it, and not before. If you get into one of those rare situations where you and somebody else show up at about the same time to take the same thing for immediate use, try finding a way to peacefully compromise. Sounds a little hippie-dippie? Maybe, but what's the alternative? Every other alternative involves one person attacking the other, which is what we're trying to avoid. If avoidance of violence is not the object, why bother with the pretense of civility?
        • Jan 21 2012: Justen,
          Lol, where do I begin..? First, what is the difference between what you propose and the lopsided system that we're all so fond of, and that society is still perpetuating today? This is the kind of greedy, selfish, egotistical line of thinking that led settlers to America, and countless other lands over history to stake claim to what was not already being used. I doubt you need to ask American Indians or any other natural inhabitant of any land, how they felt about other people coming to the land and doing what they wanted with it. Why can't you see that private property of any kind will inevitably lead to conlfict?
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          Jan 21 2012: I agree Anthony, it is the private property principle which leads to conflict. Out of thumbs up excellent post.
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        Jan 21 2012: Anthony: It's funny that you say "their land" in regard to the natives, and then condemn the concept at the same time. There was actually quite a lot land (and still is) that nobody claimed or used on the continent. I unequivocally condemn the actions of colonists, U.S. government and private individuals in confiscating property and ousting natives from the land, as I do any such actions.

        I think there's always going to be conflicts. Whether or not you choose to use words like ownership or property, the fact is that it is in our nature to hold certain things precious, and to want to have on hand and at our convenience useful things. It is in our nature to take responsibility for objects and to care for them; and to do a poor job caring for them if we are not given responsibility over them. So I'd turn the question on you: how do you expect to avoid conflict in a world where the concept of property is abolished? Do you really believe that tabooing the notion is going to suddenly transform human nature and culture? You'll be able to walk into the home that another person built and take the things that person made and gathered for himself without opposition?

        I don't think this is realistic, or necessarily desirable. I'm concerned with a commitment to peaceful resolution to conflict, not changing fundamental human nature. The fact is that most of us abhor violence and wish to avoid conflict, and most of us feel compassion for the suffering and naturally want to render aid to each other where we can. This has been with us for probably as long as we have been a species, if we're to judge by prehistoric evidence.

        I want to break down the obstacles to aiding ourselves and others, so as to minimize the causes of conflict in the world and make these sorts of conversations mostly obsolete. I doubt we will find a time when scarcity has been completely abolished, such that anything that could possibly be desired is within reach of any person; but we need not go hungry.
        • Jan 21 2012: Justen,
          I never mentioned anything about "their land". You might want to re-read what I wrote.

          Why do you believe there will always be conlfict? Is it only because the society that you envision can't be without conflict? I can agree with you that it is in our nature to hold certain things precious. I don't agree however, that any of those precious things you speak of are tangible. Alas the only reason for these tangibles is to produce that which is intangible (i.e. you can't eat money).

          RE: "So I'd turn the question on you: how do you expect to avoid conflict in a world where the concept of property is abolished? Do you really believe that tabooing the notion is going to suddenly transform human nature and culture?" I argue that the very opposite is, and has been happening for a very long time, as we have a perfectly good example of how a shift in human nature and culture has already lead to one form of property abolishment in very recent history. Do we really need to be reminded how the majority of Americans viewed slavery a couple of hundred years ago?

          I find it ironic and a little disconcerting at how we talk about the 1% in this country, and how they are taking all this wealth and greedily hoarding it to themselves, like there's some kind of small group of bankers scheming around a conference desk behind closed doors. REALITY CHECK: WE ARE THE 1%! Those of us who don't live in a third world country. Those of us who have access to electricity, and the internet. ALL OF US who post comments within the TED community. WE ARE THE 1% We continue to be indifferent and emotionally unaffected by the problems around the world, and that don't have a direct affect on our lives. Who are we to expect any different from anyone else? Who are we to complain about corporate influence in our government? Only when we understand that our individual morality has very far-reaching affects, will we be on a path to a world with no conflict.
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        Jan 21 2012: Sorry Anthony, I misread you, you are correct.

        "Alas the only reason for these tangibles is to produce that which is intangible (i.e. you can't eat money)."

        I disagree with you strongly here. Money isn't precious to me, nor to many (probably most) people. It is merely a means to an end, a way to abstract value in order to facilitate trade. To suggest that all my ends, or the ends of the vast majority of people anywhere on earth, are toward the accumulation of money is to misunderstand humanity very deeply and cynically. We very rarely ever want money for the sake of money; most of us want the things and privileges that money will buy, for better or worse.

        There are, however, many things I own that improve my life, and that I would be very upset about having confiscated - my tools, furnishings, workspaces, those things which hold sentimental value to me. For that matter, I feel ownership over the food I grow to feed my family and I would be deeply offended if someone else, having not bothered to grow their own, came along and took it, leaving us hungry. I don't think you'll ever change this, although I do strive toward a world where the motivations to take from others are minimized by making abundant those things which are most needed (food, water, shelter, etc).

        "Only when we understand that our individual morality has very far-reaching affects, will we be on a path to a world with no conflict."

        I agree strongly about this statement. I spent a lot of time, probably too much time, trying to extrapolate the far reaching effects of different behaviors. I'm not wedded to the conclusions I've drawn, but I'm fairly confident in them (even though they change over time as new information comes to light). Whereas many people are concerned about this idea, very few apply it to their day-to-day lives. It's all fine and good to worry about how your actions affect others, but are you changing them according to your conclusions?
        • Jan 21 2012: Justen,
          You're a little confused as to what is tangible and intangible. Money is something you mention as being tangible and therefore not precious to you. "It is merely a means to an end, a way to abstract value in order to facilitate trade." You go on to say, "[t]here are, however, many things I own that improve my life, and that I would be very upset about having confiscated - my tools, furnishings, workspaces, those things which hold sentimental value to me." Justen... These too are all tangibles which produce that which is intangible. Why do you need tools? what do you build things for? Why do we eat food, drink water, or need shelter? All for intangible reasons... I'll say it again so it sinks in... "Alas the ONLY reason for these tangibles is to produce that which is intangible".
  • Jan 13 2012: Yes "how". How to separate money and power?
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    Jan 11 2012: Hire lobbyists to do it.
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    Jan 11 2012: Eric Cantona, a former french football player said that if all the frenches withdrew their money from the banks at once, they'll see if the government uses more public funds to save them.

    In regards of that, you may do the calculus and get the clus that we are the corpartions without knowing. So what courage will we have to kill something we are tied to without knowing.

    In order for the government to reflect the opinion of the people, it is the entire system that have to crash, and it calls for zele never experienced before.