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2046

Government is Good

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I don't know if I'm putting this in the right place, but oh well.

Here is a new site that I read about: http://www.governmentisgood.com/

At first, I thought this had to be parody, but no, it is 100% for real. Created by a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Douglass Amy (author of such brilliant sounding books as "Real Choices, New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy" and "The Politics of Environmental Meditation") to combat the rightwing assault on the source of all things good in civilization: big government.

The crux of his argument: government does things for you, and you should be grateful for that. Without government those things would either A.) not get done, or B.) be done by the private sector. A contradiction? Why no, because you see, the private sector exists to lie, cheat, steal, and kill everyone. Basically, the world is divided into two political categories: those who run private businesses in order to cheat and kill you, and those selfless government workers who tirelessly labor to keep those other evil people from harming you. How do we know this? Well because he says so. It's "in the public interest" to restrict the behavior of individuals.

The private sector wants to kill you. Businesses exist simply to kill all of their customers. Be thankful that our beneficent social engineers are there to keep them in line.

The site has a page called "A Day in Your Life" where it shows in great detail: "Though we usually fail to notice it, government programs and policies improve our daily lives in innumerable ways." http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=1

It's not just roads and garbage disposal, and it's not just keeping those evil businessmen at bay, it's much more in depth than that. The professor is for capitalism you see, and big government is the only way to have capitalism. You can see how government rescued us foolish private citizens from our own stupidity and the free market's inherent unsustainability: http://www.governmentisgood.com/feature.php?fid=26 "Without government coming to the rescue over and over again, life in a free market system would be unpalatable for most people."

In addition to things like police and courts, private enterprise itself would not exist because because government fiat money is sound and wonderful, not like that dishonest private money that used to exist:

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=13&p=1

Without reliable money, markets would be based on primarily on barter and thus be extremely limited. In the U.S., before the Civil War, almost all paper money was issued by private banks – not the government. This was an unreliable and incredibly chaotic system. Sometimes merchants would not even accept certain currencies. It also meant there was no real control over the money supply – which has a crucial impact on inflation and economic growth. Widespread commerce and a stable economy both require a stable and dependable money system – one in which consumers and merchants have faith. This can only be provided and maintained by the federal government.

All those things you've been thinking are caused be government inteventions - they're caused by laissez-faire actually!

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=13&p=5

Economic Bubbles. Market economies are susceptable to "bubbles" -- where the price of an asset rises high above its real value. These bubbles then burst, leading to the destruction of large amounts of wealth. Recent examples include the Dot-Com bubble crash that wiped out $5 trillion in the market value of technology companies, and the $2 trillion lost when the housing market bubble burst in 2008.

Boom and Bust Cycles. As history has shown, laissez-faire capitalism is subject to regular cycles of boom and bust, where economies heat up too rapidly and then cool down into a period of deep stagnation. This process produces run-away inflation, recessions, depressions, rampant unemployment, etc. – and the widespread and profound human suffering that accompanies these serious economic problems. Government policies are often the only way to dampen these swings. For example, in an economic downturn, when businesses are shrinking, consumers are not buying, and banks are not lending, only government is in a position to revive the economy through the use of monetary and fiscal policies.

He goes on, Environmental Pollution (gasp!), Exploitation! (seriously? Still using the Labor Theory of Value?) Unsafe and Ineffective Products!, Ignoring "Needs", "Hidden Information", Inequality, Neglect of "Public Goods", didn't I tell you the private sector wants to kill you?

He even gives us this moment of genius:

Marketing Bads. Left alone, markets and businesses will sell anything for which there is a demand. But there are many things that shouldn’t be sold. We don’t want women sold into slavery in the sex industry, or the peddling of child pornography, or the sale of dangerous and addictive drugs. Only government can control what should or should not be marketed.

Which brings us to an excellent point, all liberties and freedoms are a product of government:

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=19&p=1

We often make the mistake of seeing our rights and civil liberties as merely the absence of some kind of governmental action. We believe that we have free speech or freedom of religion when the government does nothing to impede those freedoms. But in reality, our rights depend heavily on active government – on positive government actions. In fact, the very existence of rights depends on government. Rights and civil liberties are actually political constructs – creations of government. Rights do not exist until they are created by law or established in a constitution. We only have the right of free speech because it is guaranteed in our constitution. If we didn’t have our constitution, or if we didn’t have government, our civil liberties would literally not exist.

There you have it. Without government, rights would not exist. In fact, more government means more freedom! Duh! The professor brilliantly explains: Government Coercion is Good!

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=18&p=4

Ironically, coercive government policies can sometimes actually have liberating effects on us and society as a whole. For many people this may seem counter-intuitive: How can having more rules increase our freedom? But it is true. This point has been made very effectively by the political commentator Garry Wills. He has argued that government restrictions on our behavior can often work to increase our freedoms. He uses a very common example to make his point – traffic laws.

(No, I'm not joking!) He goes on:

One must stop on the command of an inanimate red light or stop sign, yield to other drivers in a number of circumstances, drive at prescribed speeds (a maximum speed imposed everywhere, though at different levels place by place, and a minimum speed set on some highways). We are told where we cannot drive (the wrong way on one-way streets, the sidewalk, certain bus lanes, certain downtown areas at certain times). …The very vehicle must be licensed, and the license periodically renewed. A car must have a mandated quantity and kind of lights, mirrors, windshield wipers, and unobstructed windows. Its width and turning capacity are determined by the state. It must have functioning brakes, mufflers, horn, and other parts. It must pass pollution tests. The car itself and its action upon others must be insured to prescribed levels. The accumulation of minor impositions is really quite staggering when one stops to add them up. … How can we really be free when we are continually triggered to obey on so many fronts?

In conclusion, less government is less freedom because you have to stop at red lights and stop signs! So that's where Ayn Rand went so wrong! Can you imagine what it would be like if no one stopped at red lights?! Think of the red lights, people! He concludes: "Actually, these rules are immensely liberating... [W]ithout these elaborate controls on our behavior, the traffic system would break down and we would not free to drive anywhere."

If government coercion is good, then surely "Taxes are Good!"

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=17

The argument for taxes is a very straightforward one: if government is on balance a very positive force in society, then taxes are good.

...instead of seeing paying taxes as analogous to being mugged by the government, we ought to think of these payments more like the tithing that many people do in their churches and synagogues. Most people see these regular donations as a charitable contribution to the good works being done by these religious organizations – and they certainly don’t resent these contributions. But if the government is also an institution dedicated in large part to doing good works – to promoting the public interest – then we should not resent our taxes contributing to those governmental activities. In fact, we should feel good about all the good our tax dollars are doing – just as we feel good about the all the good our religious donations do. Of course it could be argued that there is a big difference here – that giving money to churches is voluntary and we are required to pay taxes. But in practice, many religious organizations require members who can afford it to contribute regularly – payments that are really more like mandatory dues than purely voluntary donations. In any case, the point is that contributing toward an organization that is promoting the public good should not be seen as a bad thing.

You see, without taxes, civilization wouldn't exist. Taxes are the reasons for civilization, no the evil private sector:

Taxes are our dues — we pay our dues to be Americans and enjoy the benefits of American society. Taxes are what we pay to live in a civilized society that is democratic, offers opportunity, and has a huge infrastructure available to all citizens. This incredible infrastructure has been paid for by previous taxpayers. Roads and highways, the Internet, the broadcast airwaves, our public education system, our power grid — every day we all use this vast infrastructure. Our dues maintain it.2

It is about being a member, a part of the community. People pay a membership fee to join a gym, the local YMCA, or a club for which they get to use the basketball courts, the swimming pool, and the golf course. They did not pay for these facilities with their own memberships. They were built and paid for by other members, and all the current members maintain them with their dues. It is the same thing with our country — being a member in good standing of a remarkable nation. Americans pay their dues.

You see, it's your "dues." Pay your dues, or else. And like most people who see government as something that does things for you instead of forcing you at gunpoint to do things for it, he basically employs the "love it or leave it" AKA the "give me your property or get the fuck out" argument quoting FDR, "after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society." So there you go. All your property are belong to Uncle Sam and if you want the privilege of living in our society, you pay, otherwise get the fuck out. Taxes: the ransom you pay for the privilege of living.

This went on for a bit longer than I thought, but I will just point out one more thing when he addresses totalitarianism. Seeing as how Professor Amy quite clearly loves the Total State, with articles like "The Case FOR Bureaucracy" and "Why We Need More Government" it is interesting to see how he approaches the non-existence of recognition of individual rights in dictatorships. Citing from Obama's Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein's book The Costs of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes:

http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=19&p=2

…our rights depend heavily on an active and well-funded government. When governments find themselves in a position where they can’t effectively tax and spend as has sometimes been the case in countries in the former Soviet Union citizen rights and liberties become unenforceable and largely non-existent.

Well gee, I didn't know that Stalin murdered millions and enslaved nearly an entire continent simply because he couldn't "tax and spend effectively." Too bad the Soviet Union did not have this website to teach it how to more efficiently tax and spend so that it could properly be a beacon of good government, then maybe it wouldn't have broken up.

Well anyway, lest you think this is satire, they actually produced a satire video of their own about conservatives for Youtube:

Enjoy.

Edited by 2046

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Well anyway, lest you think this is satire, they actually produced a satire video of their own about conservatives for Youtube:

Enjoy.

The video is disgusting; the narrator's haughty, self-righteous tone made me nauseous.

Anyways, nice lampooning, 2046!

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It is worth noting that a properly delimited government, which protects the individual rights of its citizens instead of violating them, is good. You can always tell a libertarian by the claim that government is evil. The minarchist says it's a necessary evil, and the anarchist says that it's evil and therefore unnecessary. They're both wrong.

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Douglas J. Amy has got to be the most disgusting intellectual in America. In this article, he equates "tax breaks" with "cash handouts," and likens the recipients of tax breaks (i.e. people who keep their own money) to "panhandlers on the street."

He looks like a man who is scared of his own existence:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/misc/profile/damy.shtml

Edited by BRG253

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Government is evil. period. :)

No, it's not. That's something I didn't feel it necessary to mention on an Objectivist board, but the site presents the fallacy of false alternative declaring that since government is good because it does things for you, then a government that does more things for you is better and a governmen that doesn't do anything for you, or no government, is bad because there are no police, courts, or national defense.

It even contradicts itself by saying a "free market is inherntly anarchic" when ranting about how private industry exists to kill its own customers, and then has an entire section devoted to how "capitalism can't exist without government." (Which is true, but not for the reasons it names.) A government is only good or evil on the degree to which it respects individual rights.

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I'm not going to bother commenting on the site...

except to say that I really wish that I could be shocked... *sigh*

However, this puzzled me...

7:02 a.m. Back in the bathroom. You use the toilet and flush it. Your local government then takes care of transporting this waste, treating it, and disposing of it in an environmentally responsible manner – all without a second thought by you.

thanks to privatisation in the 80s, the British water industry is run by private companies (albeit heavily regulated monopolies); is the water system not privately owned and operated in the US?

does this differ between states?

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I'm not going to bother commenting on the site...

except to say that I really wish that I could be shocked... *sigh*

However, this puzzled me...

thanks to privatisation in the 80s, the British water industry is run by private companies (albeit heavily regulated monopolies); is the water system not privately owned and operated in the US?

does this differ between states?

Depends on the municipality. My experience, at least in the larger cities where I have lived, is that they are primarily government owned and run.

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thanks to privatisation in the 80s, the British water industry is run by private companies (albeit heavily regulated monopolies); is the water system not privately owned and operated in the US?

does this differ between states?

Varies.

I have local water that comes from our municipality, a small village. Sewer, well, we don't have one. I have my own private septic tanks as we all do in the village. Minimally, every two years I am required to have them pumped out, state law, but I choose who I use.

Outside our village is a another municipality, a town, and those homeowners all have private wells in addition to private septics.

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Utilities (electric, gas, etc) in the US are usually private companies heavily regulated, though I happen to know Colorado Springs' city government actually owns its utilities. I don't know how sewer usually works in the rest of the US, in Colorado Springs it's part of the Department of Utilities.

Apparently in most locales, trash removal is government owned, but in Colorado Springs several companies compete in what is, as far as I know, a relatively free market. So it's the mirror image of the usual model in the US.

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This livestream of the debate on regulations during 'Capitalism Awareness Week' introduced me to the site.  Would a point by point rebuttal of the claims about government controls be in order here or is that a waste of time?  Does such exist anywhere?

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I've seen that site before and I can't stomach it. It's frightening how he twists things logically. For example, he wrote an article entitled "stop treating Americans like beggars in the street" in which he equated tax breaks (for anyone) to handouts from the government, thus likening the recipient of a tax cut to a "beggar in the street." I don't know it's even possible that a man like him could get into a Ph.D program. He can't be very smart.

I don't know what it is, but the guy just looks sick and seedy.

amy_doug_new.jpg

Edited by iflyboats

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