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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Anti-Government vs Democracy: Part I


This is unregulated free enterprise
This is how people make cities.
If ever a stupid idea persisted way past its time it would have to be this entire movement of anti-government nonsense that now seems to completely define American conservatives. The notion that private enterprise, if left to its own devices, will completely meet the needs of the population is simply absurd. How do I know this? I know this because we have been there before. Just read history and look back to when the private sector basically did whatever the hell it wanted to do with either little interference from, or with the full support of government. Americans spent the better half of the last century literally fighting in the streets at times to correct the free-enterprise-at-any-cost movement.Now conservatives would have us return to those halcyon days with a few strokes of a legislative pen.

Here’s an example that most Americans can attest to simply by taking a look at their own communities. If you live in an area that is dominated by strip malls, parking lots, sprawl, drive-thru fast food joints, and an over-riding anti-pedestrian environment then you can thank private enterprise. This is what happens when the people have no say in how their own communities are built.  I find it hard to believe that private individuals would knowingly acquiesce to the suburban blight that has infected so much of the American man-made environment.

The people of Seattle decided many years ago that they needed to fix the problem that so many American cities have faced since the end of WWII: the decay of the inner-city because of the mass exodus to the suburbs. The city planners changed zoning laws so that all new buildings in the downtown area had to reserve the first level for businesses: shops, restaurants, grocery stores, bars, bakeries, etc. Before this law was in place vast swaths of Seattle's downtown were basically empty of residents. Who would want to live in an area without these basic services? I moved to Seattle in 1998 and the new downtown was just beginning. By the time I left in 2006 the city center had become a bustling area (I lived in the city center all 8 years). Residency had multiplied sharply while the suburbs saw a decrease in growth. The people and their elected government had shaped businesses to their liking and the city is much better for it. Of course these changes weren't all brought on by the government but the ideas set forth came from the people.

In about 1992 the city of Amsterdam had a plebiscite and the people decided to vastly restrict automobile traffic in the historic center. Parking spaces were systematically removed from the center while sidewalks and bike paths were improved. At first local businesses complained that this change would destroy commerce and turn Amsterdam into a museum instead of a vital metropolis. Any observer who has seen the city before and after this citizen initiative can say without a doubt that Amsterdam is much better now. It's called democracy in action.

9 comments:

  1. There's a difference between anti-government, i.e. anarchist who are generally associated with the left, and anti-overly intrusive, wasteful, bloated, statist government. Most conservatives believe government has a valid purpose but has long exceeded that purpose as authorized by the Constitution.

    That government is best which governs least. HDT

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  2. Wasteful, right, so let's cut the defense and intelligence budgets by two-thirds and we will eliminate a vast majority of your "intrusive, wasteful, bloated, and statist arm of the government. But then conservatives would crap themselves and eat their own shit before that would happen. And I believe that is the fundamental impasse we have between the right and left. I, a liberal, think the hundreds of billions--or trillion or two or three--wasted on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was HUGELY wasteful, bloated, blah blah blah. Wouldn't you agree?

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  3. Secondly, can we please bring ridicule to this argument about what is and is not "Constitutional." If you are an American you MUST have taken a civics or government class and learned the very basic concept that the Constitution is an "elastic" document as defined in section 8 clause 18, which basically grants Congress to pass laws that are "necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers..." In other words, Congress can pass a law
    like the Affordable Healthcare Act, which is necessary and proper to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health coverage. Because before this Act, the system was hugely expensive and inefficient, moreover it denied nearly 47 million citizens access to health insurance. Sounds necessary and proper to me, more so than two fucking wars we didn't need to fight.

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  4. I sort of wanted to confine this argument to the merits of government regarding urban planning. Show me a city worth living in and I'll show you a city with an effective government that restrains the worst aspects of unchecked growth. Compare Seattle or Portland to a shit-hole like Dallas, for example.

    That government is best which governs least.

    And sorry, stupid shit like this doesn't even make sense with even the slightest examination. Why don't we just have no government at all? No roads, no schools, no sewage, nothing. According to conservatives and libertarians (conservatives' idiot cousins) this would be paradise.

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  5. Mexico is a country with limited government, and the chaos caused by this is readily apparent. I think a huge aspect of being conservative is a complete lack of imagination, such as truly imagining a society built on their narrow and myopic view, and how chaotic, one-sided, and perilous such a society would be. It would be almost feudal. While I heartily agree government beurocracy can be ponderous and bloated, there are still very vital and necessary functions that I only trust my government to fulfill. It is the only power structure to which I have purchase. I'm not ready to concede that to some vague and silly, and ultimately destructive, notion that "less government is better." Show me concrete examples.

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  6. Yeah. "Less government" is holy to the Platinum-credit-card gated community drone until someone pisses on his Escalade while it's parked at the strip mall down the road where he gets discount gas and finds an immigrant to mow his lawn. But then if he calls the cops and they don't show up in 10 minutes, apeshit.

    Damn. More and more I miss the dirty dangerous NYC I grew up in. I blame American on the burbs.

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  7. I'm not ready to concede that to some vague and silly, and ultimately destructive, notion that "less government is better." Show me concrete examples.

    Conservatives have lots of examples...all of them from the 19th century. Most right-wingers are too stupid to realize the correlation while the select few who actually control the party want nothing better than to return to the good old days of monarchy and serfdom.

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  8. The democrats are doing a great job of keeping that serfdom going with the way they treat the minorities,so don't go putting that on Conservatives alone.
    Tell me what was good about an engineering firm getting 2 billion in stimulus money and then killing 2000 jobs? Or tell me about how extending unemployment keeps anyone current in their fields, but rather creates a bigger entitlement mindset...Tell me how the latest infusion of cash will save your beloved Spain, and the rest of Europe?
    Instead of calling conservatives stupid, answer the questions instead of ignoring them. Tell me how hyperinflation isn't going to happen while you champion more and more government intrusion as if they know best how to spend the money we pay. Do you vote absentee, pay US taxes?

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  9. That was me, trying to use an aol name but it ignored me...Denise

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