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Old 03-04-2004, 12:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Trust the Government

I said this in another thread:
"For what it's worth, I trust my government and I do not mistrust those in power unless they give me reasons to do so. Those would have to be far more significant than the reasons typically referred to.

The common mistrust of government and of those in power is corrosive to both self and society."

.....................................................

I do see the fashion of mistrusting the government to be in large part unfounded. I know many of the reasons given sound defensible. However, I get a sense this attitude of mistrust goes much farther than any possible evidence could justify. This leads me to conclude that it is really carried on for psychological reasons that have very little to do with whether our safety, security, and common good are being provided for and protected.

And, in the end, I see mistrust of government as being just another way that we are eroding the very foundations which give us civilized life.
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Old 03-04-2004, 12:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Trust the Government

Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
I do see the fashion of mistrusting the government to be in large part unfounded. I know many of the reasons given sound defensible. However, I get a sense this attitude of mistrust goes much farther than any possible evidence could justify. This leads me to conclude that it is really carried on for psychological reasons that have very little to do with whether our safety, security, and common good are being provided for and protected.

And, in the end, I see mistrust of government as being just another way that we are eroding the very foundations which give us civilized life.
I disagree. Power corrupts, and the only way to ensure that a people will not be taken advantage of by a corrupt government is to question everything they do.

US citizens have an amazing amount of freedom, and the only people that are able to take them away is the US government.
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Old 03-04-2004, 12:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Personally I distrust the government and it is not because we have....

" very little to do with whether our safety, security, and common good are being provided for and protected."

Rather I distrust them because if the American people do not question the acts of the government and analyze their actions then the government will take advantage of the ignorance of the masses. My distrust is to keep them honest. Do not get me wrong, I love my country, but they have manipulated the American people before and I would not be surprised if they did it again.

I do see your view point on this issue and I hope you found mine helpful.
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Old 03-04-2004, 01:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sure. I'm basically trying to encourage a positive and constructive approach to things like this. The fact is - I appreciate all the years of wealth, opportunity, safety, security, and common good I've experienced. I attribute a good bit of that to the fact that I am a citizen of a particular civilized nation with a comparatively quite excellent government. I also see many good people working for government and I am grateful for their work. Very little of it seems to me to be exploitative of anything.
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Old 03-04-2004, 01:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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the democratic process depends upon constant questioning of the government we elect to represent us. blind faith in leadership is the means to dictatorship.

as the man says, "in god we trust, all others pay cash."


also, societies do not erode, that is an unqualified statement as far as anthropology, sociology, and ethnography are concerned. therefore, mistrust cannot be corrosive to society per se. these types of reasoning lead to the misuse of terms like "primative" when associated with culture studies, for example.

anytime someone starts talking about how society is degrading or degenerating, you should start walking away from that conversation. what gives us civilized life is spare time, time that we don't have to spend hunting and foraging for food. we get that from division of labor and specialization of skills, plant cultivation and animal husbandry. civilization advances due to the transmission of and accumulation of knowledge.

none of these foundations are at risk. civilization is fine, but it won't ever be static.
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Old 03-04-2004, 01:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes, well. I admire your spirited rhetoric.
I said, "eroding the very foundations which give us civilized life."

I didn't say anything that would lead down the paths you've laid out. As I said previously, I'm aware of these defenses. I intended to say something positive about the way of life that supports our freedom to engage in these dialogs.

Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2004, 01:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The rejection and hostility to authority is a natural and healthy human state - the state, historically, has been so riddled with corruption and vice that it has forfitted any trust it may claim, the capitalist state has forfitted the right to exist. Only when we have a society of the government BY the people will we trust again, we will never trust those who govern for the people - we understand that they govern in the self interest only of the ruling class.
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Old 03-04-2004, 02:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Personally, I don't see hostility to anything except an obvious enemy to be something healthy. Do you see what I'm trying to say here?
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Old 03-04-2004, 02:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It is obvious to me that those who wish to exploit me are my enemies I guess.
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Old 03-04-2004, 02:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes, I can see how you might feel that way. I guess I just don't think it helps anything to be angry all the time. I'm not saying you are, but sometimes the rhetoric in here gets pretty darn heavy and I wonder about it. I wonder what good really comes of it. I mean does this sort of typing actually change anything?

I'm interested in addressing the relationship between rhetoric and reality I suppose.
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Old 03-04-2004, 03:22 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I've always considered TFPolitics to be another form of masturbation - satisfying, but in the end it's still you by yourself sitting at your computer. So no, I don't think, beyond pointing out actual misconceptions, any opinions get changed.

I like the avatar, ARTelevision. Old is New, Red White and Blue.
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Old 03-04-2004, 03:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I am also interested in this pheom. Our collective distrust in government..

In the feudal days, people trusted the government (the lord, lady or collective crown) because there was a symbiosis between them. The leader of the people was responsible for defending them, and for looking out for the collective whole. In return, the people worked for that goal. The strengths of the Scottish clans is a good example.. The republic in its original form was the people representing themselves. The government was seperate in the fact that every person did not voice thier opinions, but rather they elected a senator to do so.. The people became the government...

Now with modern democracy the people are no longer represented.. Instead "issues" are represented. (either in the form of special interests or party dogma). The people have become so seperate from the government that alot dont understand it let alone trust it...
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Old 03-04-2004, 05:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Well heck.
Just to further this along, because it does interest me in terms of our general dissatisfaction with - perhaps - our lives in general, that we may be displacing some anxiety and sense of helplessness and hopelessness and projecting it on an easy target.

I mean, as I implied earlier, if one feels "oppressed" then of course one might feel justified in harboring hostility or even lashing out.

Perhaps if I didn't see a bit of these ulterior motives seeping out into this sort of situation, I'd be more open to persuasion...
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Old 03-04-2004, 05:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by gibingus
also, societies do not erode, that is an unqualified statement as far as anthropology, sociology, and ethnography are concerned.
*Brrrring* Hello?
Uhuh, sure, I'll let him know.

Noble Ceasar! A fellow by the name of Alaric just called. Something about a bag or a sack or something. Said we should make sure we kept lots of cash on hand.

Athropology is overvalued, so is Sociology. Yes, they can both give insight, but they are both largely expressions of the politics of the practitioners as applied the the dynamic tension between the statements "Everyone is more or less alike" and "No two people are the same." Sometimes illuminating, but mostly bullshit. (Archeology excluded. That's forensic history in my book.)

As for trusting the government, I take it as axiomatic that a person who will fight to gain power over others is the one least suited to have that power. Given the nature of our campaigns, we are virtually assured of having the worst possible gang of cynical, self-interested scoundrels imaginable running the place. If they are not watch, question, and harassed at all times, they will sell the country right out from under us. Yes that's a bit hyperbolic, but it is the sense I get from the current occupiers of all three branches of government, by and large, both Democratic and Republican.
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Old 03-04-2004, 05:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Wow - so there's no public-minded citizens in our population? No basically decent people who try - just like the rest of us can be said to try - to take their responsibilities seriously and to do their jobs to the best of their ability?

So there's a view of human nature behind this as well...

Very interesting.
Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2004, 06:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Its very easy to blame the government. It can act as that phantom with which you can always claim is trying to take from you, or lock you up, or turn you into a faceless number, etc. etc. Personally I've never felt a reason to be afraid of such a spectre. I don't hear Ashcroft go bump in the night. I don't turn on the lights when I get home and expect to find Rummy sitting in my easy chair holding a loaded pistol at me. I don't open my eyes in the morning terrified that I might be waking up in Gitmo. I'm well aware that my government will, from time to time, do unethical things, they'll screw up, they'll ruin some people's unfortunately, but the almighty vote will smooth out these wrinkles. If that makes me fall into the old ignorance is bliss pidgeonhole, then so-be-it, while others are out acting out a Kafka novel, I'll be working hard, taking care of myself, voting every election, and doing it all with a smile. Lifes too short to be afraid of the boogieman.
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Old 03-04-2004, 06:59 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't trust the goverment simply because the goverment is made up of people. I don't trust those people any more than i would trust any other group of people whom i have never met. I'm not saying that every public servant is untrustworthy, just that i have little reason to trust the motives of people whom i have never met.

Its not really been a huge issue that my life revolves around. I don't have a closetful of guns just in case the feds try to take me out. I just think that blind faith in any person or group is something to be avoided.
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Old 03-04-2004, 08:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tophat665
*Brrrring* Hello?
Uhuh, sure, I'll let him know.

Noble Ceasar! A fellow by the name of Alaric just called. Something about a bag or a sack or something. Said we should make sure we kept lots of cash on hand.
chuckle. good one. still, a good example of my case in point: the roman empire fell, but civilization didn't end. cultures and societies simply moved on to other things. i admit 'civilization is ending' talk rankles me these days, the degenerate state of the decadent roman empire is too loosely bandied about by gay marriage mouthpieces who don't know their history or context.

Quote:
Athropology is overvalued, so is Sociology. Yes, they can both give insight, but they are both largely expressions of the politics of the practitioners as applied the the dynamic tension between the statements "Everyone is more or less alike" and "No two people are the same." Sometimes illuminating, but mostly bullshit. (Archeology excluded. That's forensic history in my book.)
yet the disciplines are the integral foundations of political science, which we discuss here. culture, society, politics. bullshit begets bullshit, perhaps?

Quote:
As for trusting the government, I take it as axiomatic that a person who will fight to gain power over others is the one least suited to have that power. Given the nature of our campaigns, we are virtually assured of having the worst possible gang of cynical, self-interested scoundrels imaginable running the place. If they are not watch, question, and harassed at all times, they will sell the country right out from under us. Yes that's a bit hyperbolic, but it is the sense I get from the current occupiers of all three branches of government, by and large, both Democratic and Republican. [/B]
right on and well put. it is the self interest of the individuals in government that must be continually questioned and repeatedly challenged. the very nature of our electoral process and party politics seems to serve the people less and less, and special interests and business have figured out how to play it against us too well.

i trust our government, i suppose, if that means trusting our form of government. i am a big fan of its conceptual framework and the machinery of change built into the foundation. it is a flexible, dynamic system that can serve a wide population well for a long period of time.

i do not trust the individuals who are elected to serve within that government. they lie, and history has revealed them time and time again. we now uncover their lies much faster than we have in the past. we trust less, because we have come to expect them to lie to us. and the worst lie of all is that they are serving the people, when they really serve their own self interest.

art, just because we're well off, we shouldn't get complacent, should we?
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Old 03-04-2004, 09:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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gibingus, not at all. But being well off sanctions neither cynicism nor a sense of being oppressed. Nor does it become us to bite the hand that feeds us.
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Old 03-04-2004, 10:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Trust the Government

Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
I said this in another thread:
"For what it's worth, I trust my government and I do not mistrust those in power unless they give me reasons to do so. Those would have to be far more significant than the reasons typically referred to.

The common mistrust of government and of those in power is corrosive to both self and society."

.....................................................

I do see the fashion of mistrusting the government to be in large part unfounded. I know many of the reasons given sound defensible. However, I get a sense this attitude of mistrust goes much farther than any possible evidence could justify. This leads me to conclude that it is really carried on for psychological reasons that have very little to do with whether our safety, security, and common good are being provided for and protected.

And, in the end, I see mistrust of government as being just another way that we are eroding the very foundations which give us civilized life.
I came into this discussion a little late, but I tend to agree that mistrust for mistrust's sake is senseless. I do not, in general, mistrust my government. Perhaps because I have spent some time working in government and in politics. Virtually everyone I know who seeks office does so out of the belief that they can make things better. Yes there are those who serve only self interests, but in my experience they are not the norm.

We often grow suspicious of those whose ideology is different from our own, but this is faulty logic. I can disagree but realize that they are doing what they deem right and just. Rather than simply presuming they are out to undermine the fabric of our nation, perhaps it is better to try and understand their point of view to either learn from it or learn how to oppose it.

Mistrust of government is nothing new, and if fact it is a societal norm. All this being said, a little "revolution" now and then never hurts.
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Old 03-05-2004, 08:39 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ARTelevision
gibingus, not at all. But being well off sanctions neither cynicism nor a sense of being oppressed. Nor does it become us to bite the hand that feeds us.
huh, maybe i'm starting to get it. if i am reading you right, it sounds like you just think people are being ingrateful when they express such feelings and concerns.

so, to answer that question (very rumsfeldish of me, huh?) for all the complaining and struggle to continually improve our government, i hope it is not lost on anyone that we have it better today than it has ever been. women and minorities, for instance, have more rights than ever in history, but that doesn't mean that there is no oppression in our society, our cultre or our government.

we need to jealously protect our hard won freedoms. people will always try to impose their views on others, as currently evidenced by the straight majority trying to block the gay minority from the basic human right of marriage.

i love liberty and appreciate how precious it is. the light of liberty is an eternal flame, but that does not mean it can be left to burn untended.

and i think i may possibly view the hand that feeds us from a different perspective than yours. i am one of the many hands that feeds goverment, it does not feed me, nor do i expect or want it to. it serves me because i empower it to do so when i exercise my rights as a citizen.

because i question and challenge the present government, i may be labeled a liberal and unpatriotic by some present on this board. however, i hope you see from these statements that i have no expectations of entitlement and feel that the true definition of patriotism is to put the nation above the state - that is the abstract ideal of america is not necessarily the government that serves it at any one time. this is why those who instigate revolution are called patriots . hardly a 'liberal' stance as it has been painted by such conservatives.

but really, i don't understand the use of the term 'liberal' as a slur. by strict definition, wouldn't we all benefit from being open minded, tolerant and respectful of views and opinions other than ours, and receptive to change and progress? regardless of political parties, that is the basic philosophical framework of our government. i will challenge any democrat as vigorously as i challenge any republican, and i hope everyone else will do the same. many have laid down their lives so that we could do just that, and we honor them by enjoying those rights to the fullest extent. perhaps this is a topic for a new thread?

and art, a somewhat late thanks for the nod to my spirited rhetoric. i love rhetoric just as i love sohpistry and oration, and i sorely miss its presence in our modern political arena where speech writers have attained celebrity and pr handlers carefully place sound bites in politicians' mouths. the great politicians of our past (lincoln, jefferson, and others) were beautiful orators and brilliant thinkers who spoke for themselves, and their words inspired and changed the world. today, rhetoric is used as a dirty word. how we could benefit by cultivating a healthier respect for it and demanding it of our representatives.
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Old 03-05-2004, 10:05 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally posted by gibingus

so, to answer that question (very rumsfeldish of me, huh?)

Is is Rusfeldish or Rumsfeldian?
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Old 03-05-2004, 12:21 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I've always felt the US' general distrust of it's government was rather excessive. Perhaps it's just a culture thing, something that grew from the US (anti-UK) civil war? I doubt you'd see such a level of mistrust in my country, for example.

Generally, I'd say that mistrust of the government comes from previous bad examples.

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Old 03-05-2004, 12:25 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dragonlich
I've always felt the US general distrust of it's government was rather excessive. Perhaps it's just a culture thing, something that grew from the US (anti-UK) civil war? I doubt you'd see such a level of mistrust in my country, for example.

Generally, I'd say that mistrust of the government comes from previous bad examples.
I think (from my Poli-Sci classes) that this happened a little later. My profs always pointed to Watergate as the fall of public opinion of politicians. The true "end of Camelot"
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Old 06-13-2004, 06:41 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Kicking this one back up for your consideration.
There are some interesting points here.

I'm still wondering what is good about the high level of general cynicism toward trusting the most enlightened and highly progressive govenrments - such as those in the Free World, whatever their stripe. On balance, I trust my government no matter which party is in power.

I do see some reason for the sort of questioning that a lot of people find fashionable and even the justification they give about citizens having some noble duty to question the government - although I think they push it way beyond what is useful or constructive.
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Old 06-13-2004, 10:09 AM   #26 (permalink)
 
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1. i do not accept the notion that the material well-being of members of a particular social class functions to legitimate any political structure in general---ideology 1---capitalist governance is about the regulation of social life in general in the interests of a particular class. it pretends to operate in the name of all, but any analysis of the social system reveals this to be false.

actors who occupy positions of privilege within that present order are obviously inclined to support that order. the move to make that support general at any level, by generalizing their own situation to all, making of it something like a normative ground for thinking about how others might percieve that order, is simply a mirror of the dominant ideology.

2. you can confuse formal and substantive freedom quite easily if you reject modes of analyzing the social environment out of hand. it worked for stalinism. it works for americans.

the characterization of sociology posted above, for example, is simply idiotic. it is not uninteresting to think about social identity as constructed across processes of social differentiation, for example. it is not uninteresting to see how these patterns of differentiation function to obscure general questions about the operation of the political status quo. it is not uninteresting to see in these studies of social differentiation the effects of class stratification as they play out in, say, access to cultural capital, to educational capital, how economic class is diffused across cultural questions, how that diffusion tends to obscure the reality of class. it is not uninteresting to find in some sociology a window onto the gap between formal and substantive freedom in the states--- without some kind of window, you could actually come to believe crap like the argument that because in principle actors enjoy the formal possibility of social mobility, that it follows that everyone has equal access to the preconditions for such mobility, and that poverty, inequality, etc. are therefore and necessarily a function of some moral failing on the part of individuals. which works out quite nicely as a mode of self-justification for holders of wealth that derives from the material and cultural options that circulate within the system as a whole--but it says nothing about the system itself, nothing about anything except that those beneficiaries prefer to extend their self-congratulation to all spheres.

conservatives prefer to dissolve thinking about the social, to stay focussed on the level of formal freedom, and to dream about their world on that basis.

simple trust the dominant political system supposes that "everything works itself out in the end"----which is of a piece with the notion that the universe is rational because behind the scenes somewhere a benevolent god pulls all the strings. as a piece of fiction, that position operates quite nicely, but in fact it often functions to justify the inequalities generated by the order, to reduce the space of political thinking or action to nothing, because if history is ordered by some god, what is there to complain about?

there are real problems for nation-states in general that follow from the increasing globalization of capitalism for example--this is a period of extreme uncertainty in all sectors--what is the state to regulate? what happens to the already distorted regime of wealth accumulation that has arisen over the past say 6 decades of capitalism once the systems of economic and political power start to shift away from the nation-state as the center of policy making? "(this list could go on).....in the immediate run, how is the american state to deal with these problems if the worldviews of members of the political class are shaped entirely by the horizons of the nation-state? you can see much of neocon ideology in practice as attempts to run away from these problems by reducing the purview of the political (privatization) and to shift the main focus of the state to questions military (the iraq war a theater of the conflict between the american state and international or transnational institutions that are symbolized, accurately or not no matter, this is american damn it...)

at the same time, it is obvious that these are incoherent as responses. what to do then? assume the rational universe theory, assume that everything will work out in a way that does not affect you?

there are **real** problems, **real** questions to be considered if you like anything about the existing order of things. people should be informed, they should debate, they should think--if they dissent, they should articulate that dissent, put it out into the public domain, argue their position. and why not?
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Old 06-13-2004, 10:55 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dragonlich
I've always felt the US' general distrust of it's government was rather excessive. Perhaps it's just a culture thing, something that grew from the US (anti-UK) civil war? I doubt you'd see such a level of mistrust in my country, for example.

Generally, I'd say that mistrust of the government comes from previous bad examples.
How are these for examples:

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:


1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,


2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,


3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,


4.) That the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,


5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

=============================================

Additionally, I read the other day that 47% of US children are born into "poverty." Not sure if "poverty" means lack of cable TV.

In my life, I've never gone wrong by following the money. When 47% of US children are raised to believe they are entitled to money taken from the rest of us, what do you think the end result will be?
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Old 06-13-2004, 10:58 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dragonlich
I've always felt the US' general distrust of it's government was rather excessive. Perhaps it's just a culture thing, something that grew from the US (anti-UK) civil war? I doubt you'd see such a level of mistrust in my country, for example.

Generally, I'd say that mistrust of the government comes from previous bad examples.
Wow, if you think the US mistrusts its government, you should check out Australia. Its almost as though we lividly hate all our politicians, and we are deeply suspicious and scepticle of everything they say and do. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. I think it is ingrained through our convict heritage aswell as the huge proportion of anti-authoritarian Irish who imigrated to this nation in the early days. This type of cultural behaviour even has a name over here 'the tall poppy syndrome' (ie. If you stick your neck out you will get cut down to size). Generally speaking, we hate arrogance in any form, loathe being ordered around and always support the underdog. Somehow though, this hasnt kept us being involved in large conflicts all over the world for the last 200 years. In fact, for our size we have lost more men on forign soil than any other nation. Our small, but highly regarded film industry could never produce a film like Air Force One, because the thought of our PM being a super action hero would be laughed at long and hard. Personally ive always thought that the patriotism that the US seems to hold for its politicians is a romantic and admirable thing. Maybe sometimes though there is a bit too much glitz and a bit too much pomp and glamour. I guess youve gotta be sure youve got the right person(s) representing you.
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Old 06-13-2004, 11:31 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I find it amusing that people distrust their government to this degree. I find it hard to believe that of all the processes that the government involved in only a few are enough to cause such alarm. Basically what I am saying is: Out of the million things that the gowernment does on a daily basis if 5 are bad and get media attention then we should believe that the government is corupt and distrust it. Yes there are dishonest people in government, but to have an unhealthy distrust for the entire establishment is completely paranoid (IMO).

I am much more critical if the cell phone industry or used car salesmen, out of the 100 deals that they make they completely screw 5 people (and they do it maliciously). Who would you rather deal with?
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Old 06-13-2004, 01:39 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Your statements are overwhelmingly correct, Boo.
...
As for theoretical and philosophical discussions on the true nature of human freedom - they make interesting reading, roachboy, but - I'm addressing socio-political realities in the context of world history.
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Old 06-13-2004, 04:15 PM   #31 (permalink)
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It would seem to me that the distrust here, is not of the government in its entirety. The issue I have seen stems from the belief that the top three officials in our current administration act as if they are either corrupt, of incompetent. The government of the United States is , in my opinion, currently the most productive and freedom loving availible.
That said.....I simply do not trust the president, or his administration to do the job before them, in a way that protects the rights and well bieng of myself, or those I love.
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Old 06-13-2004, 04:19 PM   #32 (permalink)
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The cynicism people have about governement is a symptom of the mistrust modern people have for their neighbors. The people who trust and put faith in others as a default are more likely to give the government the benefit of the doubt. In effect, personal experience and values ae coloring our perceptions of not just the government but also each other. It's a bleak world out there today, probably because we make it so.
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Old 06-13-2004, 05:59 PM   #33 (permalink)
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The way I see it, the government will interfere with our ability to know or understand that which they do not believe we ought to know or understand, and I've enver seen or heard a thing that would suggest overall that their ability to discern between good and the unacceptable bits of information is paranoia inducingly flawed.
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Old 06-13-2004, 06:16 PM   #34 (permalink)
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I believe the key word is in fact "paranoia" - because fear of the US Government, including this or any other administration is unreasonable. No one here has had any freedom curtailed by this government have they?

I'm sure some will announce some minor curtailment of their freedom which is so abstract that it can not possibly justify the rhetoric - and yet, there will be no list compiled of the extensive number of human freedoms we all exercise every day. So I suppose it is paranoia plus a lack of appreciation that's behind this malady.

Is it really so hard to say constructive things about our way of life, our government and administration?

Since this issue is far more important than who is in the White House and which party or part of the spectrum is represented in government, I have an odd hope that their candidate wins the Presidency again. I will personally demonstrate how one can be supportive and appreciative and constructive about our government and its administration.

You can have my word on that and come November, you may even have the proof.

Why do I feel this way? Because this negative, cynical, and fashionable alienation from our ongoing political reality is damaging to our spirit, cohesiveness, and morale.

I know who our enemies are - and they are not in our government.
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Old 06-13-2004, 06:59 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Man, I wish I had more time to post on this right now, but I don't. I'll have to come back later and see how the discussion fares. However, quickly I would like to throw out for consideration that I think that it's not only a mistrust of the American government, but a mistrust of all of the institutions of power existing - this would be the government, large business concerns and corporations, and other politico-sociological institutions such as the various religious instituations (I think respect for the Catholic Church has taken a little hit recently, for example). I think that one large reason contributing to this pervasive sense of distrust is attributable to the explosion in technology and the raw amount of access to information about individuals and control/access to their lives that never existed before. I think that this new age of Information Technology also gives the citizen a feeling of being deluged by information on all sides, such that he or she can not trust anything. There are no longer two sides to every story - there are ten. I think that we are in a period of adjustment, and that distrust is a natural reaction. I also think that a much larger portion of the American populace is educated than at any time in the past, and we are trained to question everything. I personally think this is a healthy attitude, but not the point that it makes you cold and cynical in every aspect of your life.

In short I would argue that a healthy distrust in our government is the responsibility of the American citizen, and although I don't have time to dig up quotes right now, I believe that I can find a number of them from Founding Fathers expressing just the same sentiments. I've been thinking about this a good bit since some of these Patriot Act threads kicked up. I guess I would essentially sum up a lot of things I would like to take the time to write with the old adage "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" and follow by saying that I think that most people have the feeling that our government has more power now than ever before. Whether this is true or not is another topic of debate, but everyone can see the Man over his shoulder.
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Old 06-13-2004, 10:05 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Yes I'm aware of the quotes - there are many.

It's clear what is meant and what is not meant by such statements.These statements are not a license for negativity or bitter partisanship. They are not a carte blanche to bash a government or administration beyond all reason. They are not an excuse for paranoia.

The actionable point in my statement was the call for concrete examples of ways in which any freedoms have been taken away from individuals who post here. I'd like to see the list of grievances rather than the usual complaints from the usual partisan suspects.
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Old 06-13-2004, 10:13 PM   #37 (permalink)
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With a very small percentage of eligible US citizens voting, I distrust the Government because we do not use our power to influence it effectively. Also, many decisions in government are influenced by the campainge contributions from the big corporations which, in my opinion, actually run our government.
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Old 06-14-2004, 12:07 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Everyone has their own level of trust with the government - some trust it completely, others do not one bit, others are so-so

And even then they have their own reasons...

But for me? What do I see? I think it as natural to question those in authority. When one feels they have been lied to or injustices have occured that have not been brought to light, one begins to lose trust.

Watergate really lowered public trust in government - people realized they had been lied to. A glimpse at the tapes of Nixon revealed the real side of people running government. People then realized that there was more to it.

As for the U.S. general distrust of government - I think its a natural part of living in the U.S. Its true that much of its history has been in trust of the government, but, put it this way too - how much government was there back then?

Government has grown big in the last 50 years and indeed even efforts to cut it have only made it larger in the end. America was long founded on individualism and independence.

Simply put, living on a farm back then, one did not ever see the government. Maybe the mail once in a while, and most people were free of the government. Now that people have contact everyday with some insitution of government, one does begin to distrust those in power when one feels wronged or injusticed. Americans are naturally independent people and when they feel there are people controlling them, that rubs them the wrong way.

Well, at least that's my take... and yes I do support questioning the government to make sure its not corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And, once the government takes power away from the people, it will NEVER relinquish it.
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Old 06-14-2004, 03:20 AM   #39 (permalink)
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I fully agree with Conclamo and Boo...

Quote:
Originally posted by Conclamo Ludus
Its very easy to blame the government. It can act as that phantom with which you can always claim is trying to take from you, or lock you up, or turn you into a faceless number, etc. etc. Personally I've never felt a reason to be afraid of such a spectre. I don't hear Ashcroft go bump in the night. I don't turn on the lights when I get home and expect to find Rummy sitting in my easy chair holding a loaded pistol at me. I don't open my eyes in the morning terrified that I might be waking up in Gitmo. I'm well aware that my government will, from time to time, do unethical things, they'll screw up, they'll ruin some people's unfortunately, but the almighty vote will smooth out these wrinkles. If that makes me fall into the old ignorance is bliss pidgeonhole, then so-be-it, while others are out acting out a Kafka novel, I'll be working hard, taking care of myself, voting every election, and doing it all with a smile. Lifes too short to be afraid of the boogieman.
Quote:
Originally posted by Boo
I find it amusing that people distrust their government to this degree. I find it hard to believe that of all the processes that the government involved in only a few are enough to cause such alarm. Basically what I am saying is: Out of the million things that the gowernment does on a daily basis if 5 are bad and get media attention then we should believe that the government is corupt and distrust it. Yes there are dishonest people in government, but to have an unhealthy distrust for the entire establishment is completely paranoid (IMO).

I am much more critical if the cell phone industry or used car salesmen, out of the 100 deals that they make they completely screw 5 people (and they do it maliciously). Who would you rather deal with?
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Old 06-14-2004, 06:09 AM   #40 (permalink)
 
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let me try to break things down for you, art--my apologies if my way of writing made what i was trying to say seem too abstract--but then again, you seem to be in adjudication mode yourself here, so i assume that being designated abstract means being marginalized....so one more try....

i am not sure, ultimately, what you mean by "trust the government"---trust is too often a synonym for passive acceptance, or a passivity legitimated with reference to some god. these days, trust the gvt would seem to entail accepting the current largely conservative ideology along with it, checking your intellect at the door in exchange for a flag, etc.

as for government, here too it is unclear--the state? which? all its functions, obvious and near-invisible? the delivery of services? the redistribution of wealth? does the system of social reproduction count as part of "government"? the various institutions of social control (e.g. the church, television, etc.)

when you think about government, are you thinking about the particular bureaucratic institutions, or do you include an idea of social reality, social consequences in your picture? do you really think you can consider the state apart from the social environments it interacts with? on what basis?

when you think about politics, governance, how do you define the terms? are you really thinking about anything? how do you know? a common sense notion of government is a ideological notion.....does trust mean that you are willing to have your understanding of "reality" sliced and diced and rearranged by the shifts in political wind? and why would you do that? because thinking is "corrosive of the self and society"?

these are not abstract questions, art--they get to the heart of things "in world history"--itself an absurd abstraction--why not think more about the immediate american situation?
since i work as a historian myself, i have a fair notion that when you collapse into a "common sense" understanding of the basic terms for analysis, you evacuate anything that you might have to say of interest---that "reality" is not something given in advance---that what you say and how you say it matter very much in staging a view of the past, of the present....there is no obvious, immediate definition of anything in the social world.

thinking is hard sometimes. it requires that you sift through your premises, check information, experiment with arguments, be willing to admit that you are wrong. being critical of the regime under which you live requires that you think--more often than not, to try to maintain a position that enables you to at least try to get a view of what is happening around you....in the states, you try to remain coherent in the face of the narcotizing influence of the vast american ideological apparatus that would reduce your world to a series of vacant slogans and divert your thinking to questions of which consumer durable to buy--to counter these require some effort, some struggle---and the result of these operations will often put you in opposition--i would say that if by trust the government you mean allow yourself to be lulled to sleep by the fact of your having benefitted by the way the current system is working, to substitute "it works for me" for analysis, then no i do not trust it, i would not know how to.

paraphrasing someone famous, an unconsidered life is not worth living, even in the context of nice things, a nice residence, etc. this gets to very personal things, that i would be happy to talk about--but am wary of getting shoved off to the side again and ultimately just talking to myself, so will stop here for the moment.
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