Role of Government

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by guzhogi, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. guzhogi macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #1
    What do you think the role of government should be? Something like it is today, where there are many social welfare systems, national defense, economy, etc., no government whatsoever, or something in between?

    If you want no government whatsoever, here's a few questions I have for you:
    -How should the economy work? Since no one's printing the money, how do we get it?
    -Who should be responsible for maintaining the sewers systems, water, electricity, streets, etc.? And how should it be handled?

    Let me start off by saying that I'm somewhat of a moderate. I don't really want a huge government that tells us how to live our lives, but I don't want anarchy either. I want a government who provides & maintains a good basic infrastructure (ie good streets, railroads & other transportation, good electrical system, water & sanitation, etc.) as well as have a system to help the less fortunate get on to their feet. However, these less fortunate would have to actually work to get on their feet & get better, not just slack off. However, I believe that there can never be a truly "perfect" government because people are far from perfect. But we can at least make it as good as possible.
     
  2. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #2
    I think a good way to tackle this question is to read the history books. Every government program we have today was created for a reason. Look at the reason and the circumstances surrounding the creation of the program, and ask yourself how would you deal with that same problem today?

    Because if you eliminate the programs that were created to address the problems, the problems will either come back, or get a lot worse. In today's political climate, can you imagine trying to deal with the problems that led to the creation of the EPA, FCC, FDA, Medicare or Social Security?

    That being said, I think we could be a lot more efficient if we found ways to eliminate the need for some programs or streamline them. A universal health care program where everyone had free coverage would eliminate the need for separate medicare and medicaid, along with all the administrative costs associated with sepearate programs.
     
  3. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #3
    I was just wondering how other people would deal with these problems. While I can understand that these programs you mentioned were created, but I want to know how other people would handle said problems. Whether they'd keep them, get rid of them, or set up private companies to deal with them.

    Example: we have the military to protect us from attacks. Okay. Maybe someone else would want the government to not handle it but rather a private security firm.

    I'm just wondering other people's ideal government is like and how they would deal with the functions they don't want the government to handle.
     
  4. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #4
    Over half the US "forces" in Iraq were private contractors. Look how well that went.
     
  5. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #5
    You seem to want to reinvent the wheel. Sorry, that's not possible. It certainly is possible to improve it though.

    As skunk mentions, private militaries are total disasters. Eric Prince took the US for a ride and became insanely wealthy because of it. Do you honestly think that putting the military in control of private persons is a good idea? What about putting the EPA in the hands of industry? I don't want a corporate behemoth doctoring research to further their profits at the expense of my health. Nor do I want kids to be educated by people who have an agenda of hate and ignorance.

    Perhaps it's better to ask why you came here to ask this question? What event triggered your curiosity?
     
  6. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #6
    There are so many right-wing people out there who call for a smaller government. I'd just like to know what these people would like to do with the problems you've stated. I'd just like to see if they think stuff like that is really a problem, and why or why not. Just curious where every one stands on this.
     
  7. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #7
    well it was a great re-branding success ;)
    "private contractor" sounds a lot better than "mercenary"
     
  8. Sydde, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011

    Sydde macrumors 68020

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    #8
    The military is an interesting subject to explore. The US constitution seeks to limit the military's ability to influence the government by placing it in the hands of the citizenry (in the actual context in which it was written, one might infer that "the people" = "landed gentry") through the second amendment. Not surprisingly, this ideal has been fully consumed by technology: the Pentagon has been the fourth branch of government for at least a century.

    And what is its function? What threats does the US realistically face that could justify this mammoth threat to our freedom that protects our freedom? Why do we need the immense internal and international intelligence networks? What peacetime function does this serve, when WWII showed how quickly the private sector can marshal its forces for martial forces?

    Clearly, one of the prime functions of the military, and of the government in general, is to support enterprise. Without the implicit backing of military might, the growth of multinational corporations almost certainly would have been greatly inhibited. At the same time, the military exercises its slice of the budget in ways that make its continued existence in its present form crucial to the health of the overall economy: we cannot reign in the Pentagon without making major adjustments to structure of the economy.

    If there were a way to decentralize the standing armed forces, so that its maintenance and operations could be handled at the state and local level, perhaps we could gain better control of it and its costs. But that could hamper the ability of the multinationals to maintain control of their operations across the globe. The symbiosis between guns and grain and gold is very difficult to unravel.
     
  9. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    #9
    That is an interesting point and I have often wondered why, after years of private military contracting, that such magnitude of atrocities just seem to appear out of nowhere. The only answers I can theorize are:

    1) Bad things have happened before and have been covered up
    2) Someone explicitly planned/ordered the killing of civilians
    3) The level of atrocities by Xe was exaggerated (which it does not seem to be)
    4) This was 'revenge' and driven by personal emotions (as earlier a Blackwater team were tortured, burned alive, and hung...in which US Marines, assisted by UK and Iraqi forces, killed/arrested the people who did that shortly after)
    5) An unknown factor did something none of us know about

    Military contracting isn't new and the people from certain organizations are upon some of the most qualified of all protective services and have been used to provide protection to high ranking figures for some time. Blackwater/Xe is one of 5 contractors used in the US in recent time. Private training firms are almost worldwide. With that said, the US uses more than most other countries. Many private contractors are composed of many (mostly) ex military guys, whom to my understanding can make a small fortune in the private sector as opposed to less working for the "_____" Military directly. Some claim this to be a conflict of interest...I kind of see it that way as you get US Armed Forces training and then you leave and work for a private firm. For quite some time, satisfaction, even with Blackwater (now Xe) seemed to be satisfactory. So what changed? Why?

    Should the people of Blackwater stand trial for killing around 20+ (proven) Iraqi Civilians? (and possibly more). Absolutely, and the US needs to either 1) try them in a Military court themselves, or 2) allow them to be tried in Iraq...neither which they have done thus far creating more anger. Furthermore, Blackwater employees completely screwed the US Military (and really all Western militaries) by creating fierce resistance due to them shooting unarmed civilians with good indication that they KNEW they were unarmed civilians...and can you blame them? If someone was trying to prove themselves to you and then slaughtered your neighbors, I doubt anyone would accept or even want them. It only takes a few people to make an entire country look bad.

    But yeah, I am just throwing all this out their. It's something I've pondered and really don't have a good understanding of, but private military contracting obviously has some issues.
     
  10. Squadleader macrumors regular

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    #10
    "Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
    Ronald Reagan
     
  11. Squadleader macrumors regular

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    #11
    Really...that many...?? Were you there Skunk...??
     
  12. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #12
    Why would I go there? :confused:


    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/07/hbc-90000559
     
  13. NickZac macrumors 68000

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    #13
    It was very high figure but it is a misleading figure as well, due to numerous roles being lumped into 'private security forces'.

    IIRC the actual number of private military contractors in Iraq at its peak was around 100,000...now it is much less obviously. These are misleading figures though, as many of them are called 'armed private contractors', but they are really drivers who have guns for an ICSH scenario. They often transport items not directly weapon/defense related (food, water, mail, etc), and they are not involved in 'hot' combat unless they are attacked themselves. Drivers in Iraq could make quite a lot of money and numerous private firms 'subcontracted' drivers, many whom happen to have prior military experience. This may occur though due to the willingness of military personal to work in such a harsh climate and skills in how to survive that normal civilians do not have. Around 2,000-3,000 contractors have been killed, but stats are all varied as some people call them citizens, some mercenaries, some military, and some other; each designation yields greatly varied stats. Many of the people killed were transport drivers getting hit with IEDs and RPG7/7S's (and occasionally 29's).

    At the peak of military involvement, the number of outside 'coalition' forces were around 350,000 IIRC with US forces being slightly over half of that. Now how much of the actual 'fighting' was done by private firms is hotly debated, as their roles are generally security and transport based.

    Technically, the majority of the war was fought by (on the coalition side) Iraqi Security Forces, who composed over a million Iraqis. People seem to forget this...it wasn't like the coalition forces showed up and all of Iraq joined the other side. The ISF have had over ten times the casualties than the rest of coalition forces combined. They have also had many more longterm and lifechanging injuries. Much of coalition involvement centered around the training Iraqi security forces, which is a major role of numerous present branches of the US and UK special forces, with the goal of creating sustainability.
     
  14. Lord Blackadder, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011

    Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #14
    The use of mercenaries has been deprecated by military thinkers for two millenia, yet nations still find themselves using them, usually with negative results.

    Civilian militia can be effective in guerilla warfare or, in a last extremity, in defense of their own homes. Apart from that they have little military value.

    A nation state, regardless of how peaceful or pacifist it may be, must be prepared to defend itself from hostile neighbors. This is, I'm afraid, a state of affairs that is not going to change in the forseeable future. That does not, however, mean that offensive warfare is in any way justifiable, except within the context of defending one's self.
     
  15. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #15
    The military figures likewise include many thousands in non-combat roles, so the comparison stands.


    Technically, the Iraqi Army was disbanded.
     
  16. fivepoint, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011

    fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #16
    -Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States
    First Inaugural Address, 1801
     
  17. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #17
    I like that quote, and believe it to an extent. While I believe should have the freedom to do what they want & need and get what they deserve, so many people today are very self-centered and oppress other people. So many people have the mentality "What's in it for me" and "I don't want it, but I don't want you to have." <naivety> I look forward to the day when people's motivation comes from wanting to better themselves, other people, and the world and not just the acquisition of wealth. </naivety>

    While regulations can stifle progress, regulation does help somethings. Example: the BP oil spill and all those mine collapses. Without regulations, the companies saved money in the short term by not upgrading the infrastructure and safety mechanisms. But they eventually lost a lot of money, time and manpower due to their accidents. With regulations, while it might have cost some money to implement and costed some profits, they can prevent losses. Unfortunately, I don't believe there's an ideal mixture of regulation & freedom that works for 100% of the people 100% of the time.
     
  18. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

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    #18
    This is an interesting thread you've started. I like threads that get down to the fundamentals of why we have government.

    Your comments indicate you don't like - for lack of a better word - selfishness.

    That doesn't bother me. Even if it did bother me, we are talking about someone's thoughts. The government should not exist to change or punish someone's thoughts.

    That suggests some sort of action, such as involuntary servitude or slavery. The government/legal system should exist, in part, to prevent/deter involuntary servitude and slavery.

    Again. Thoughts.

    That would indeed be nice.

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but it was my understanding that regulation was in place in both instances. The question is whether the regulation was circumvented, followed, not followed, etc. To bring it back to your earlier premise - yes, many, many people are greedy. That exists for people both in the private sector, and it exists for people in the public/government/regulation sector.

    But they did have regulations/regulators.

    I agree.

    As I type this, Diane Rehm (sp?) is having a show on Obama's call for studying the value of less regulation. Like most of her shows, it's quite interesting.
     
  19. fivepoint, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    fivepoint macrumors 65816

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    #19
    There's a common misconception that it's conservatives who are 'self-centered', but statistical evidence proves otherwise. Conservatives are FAR more charitable both with their money and things like time, blood, than liberals are. What many people mistake for 'self-centered' attitude is actually quite the opposite. They care for the poor and the less well off just as much as liberals, just fundamentally disagree with the solution to the problem. While liberals tend to think that federalized handouts (entitlements) are the best way forward, conservatives tend to feel that private charity and providing motivations for self-sufficiency is a more apt approach.

    In regards to your BP example, what you don't probably realize is that the only reason BP was drilling in that deep of water was because of government. The tree-huggers lobbied to have them a certain distance from land, in order to make this happen the government agreed to limit BP's financial risk in the event of a spill in exchange for BP moving to deeper, more expensive, more risky and difficult waters to drill for oil. Without government intervention, oil companies would avoid such risks as they would be financially and legally responsible for the repercussions of such a spill.

    Also, regarding your suggestion that people are too focused on wealth, I would suggest that creating wealth means doing good for people. As wealth in this country is earned by the willful exchange of goods and currency, the best way to earn wealth is to provide others with goods and services that they value and are willing to pay for. Through a focus on creating wealth, the free market has provided more prosperity and a higher standard of living than any political or economic system in the history of man. You're working under the false assumption that when someone does something in their own interest that it must be to the detriment of someone else. As Reagan put it... when you see a fat man, you automatically assume he must have gotten that way by taking advantage of a thin one. Such is provably false. Here's a fun little video which speaks to how wealth is created and how everyone benefits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkXI-MNSb8Q
     
  20. mcrain, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    mcrain macrumors 68000

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    #20
    WRONG. Conservatives give more dollars, but they have more dollars as well. If a conservative gives 1 out of every 50 dollars they have, and a liberal gives 1 out of every 49 dollars they have, who gives more? The reality is that dollar for dollar, the poor actually give a higher percentage of their income in charity than do the wealthy. Oh, and how is giving to your church so they can build a multi-million dollar building charity?

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! There are tons of oil rigs in the gulf, both inshore and far deeper. The reason BP was drilling where they were is because there is oil there. Not because they were prevented from drilling closer inshore where they were already drilling! Geez, talk about making stuff up to suit your worldview.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #21
    Um... no. From the article/study:
    They give more dollars AND a higher percentage of their wealth. We've gone through this before... conservative does not equal rich, and liberal does not equal poor. the next thing you know, you're going to be suggesting that conservatives have more blood in their system so it's not fair to compare how much they give than liberals. ;)

    I know it's a hard pill to swallow, Mcrain... but just admit it. Conservatives are more charitable - period.
     
  22. ender land macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Did you even read the article?


    What about the blood donation? I do not think conservatives have more blood than liberals.. :cool:

    Also, regarding "church," the author points out

     
  23. rdowns macrumors Penryn

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    #23
    If true, it's probably out of guilt of all the repressive legislation they support.
     
  24. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #24
    He linked to a macrumors thread that I've responded to before. For many reasons, I have issues with the article. That being said, I don't completely disregard it. But, the idea that conservatives are far more charitable is an overstatement at best, if not worse. The research I am familiar with deals mostly with income levels rather than party affiliation, and the poor and middle classes do give more than the wealthy. Perhaps it is too much of a leap to connect those dots. Perhaps not.

    No, but a lot more people self-identify as conservative than liberal when polled.
     
  25. ender land, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011

    ender land macrumors 6502a

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