Las Vegas Sun

January 31, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Democracies aren’t built to last

Another view?

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Regarding Bill Miller’s letter, “Direct democracy empowers people”:

Mr. Miller’s ideas about democracy are very nice. And we certainly have the technology to pull them off. Unfortunately, they have only one minor flaw: Democracy simply doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the ancient Greeks. It didn’t work for the Romans. There is an old saying about democracies: A democracy is six wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Throughout history, the outside life span of a democracy has been about 300 years. Our Founding Fathers knew this. It is why they tried to create a republic. Originally, only landowners could vote.

There is a simple truth: You can not let people vote who have no skin in the game. They will vote themselves all kinds of benefits with no regard to how it is going to be paid. Eventually the Ponzi scheme collapses. And the poor suffer the most.

It all comes down to that overused word: greed. We are all greedy. It is why capitalism works and socialism fails. Socialism has no mechanism to harness our basic self-interest. And what could possibly be greedier than believing you have the right to other people’s money without giving anything in return?

Even the British band Ten Years After had that figured out when they sang, “Tax the rich, feed the poor till there are no rich no more.”

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  1. Democracy is another word for the tyranny of the majority. While it sounds perfectly wonderful in theory, in practice the devil is in the details.


  2. Unfortunately, even under our system, it's happening. The unproductive, irresponsible & parasitic class, under cover provided by "progressives," have been syphoning off more and more of the blood, sweat & hard work being produced by the working class and we can easily see the results today. Massive overspending creating huge deficits and a national debt so large it is incomprehensible to most. Soon, the piper will come to collect his due and the economic system will collapse upon itself and those unproductive, irresponsible parasites won't shoulder any responsibility for it and there will be, as in Greece, rioting, anarchy & blood in the streets.

  3. I can't agree with the mantra that "capitalism works and socialism fails". In most cases socialism exists only because an experiment in unbridled capitalism failed first and socialism succeeds very well in many instances. The more extreme and despotic the capitalism the more extreme the socialist remedy (communism) that does not succeed.

    Pure capitalism is basically an exploitive economic system. Picture 19th century England and the United States of the robber baron days and you get the idea as well as the reason labor unions formed and government gradually intervened to neutralize the more extreme effects of capitalism on society.

    Most Americans do not begrudge those that accumulate wealth the way they do - through hard work, ingenuity, and persistence. However when they sense that wealth is being accumulated through political influence and at their expense they will speak up. Those that do not listen do so at their peril.

  4. REPOST:

    Michael Casler wrote,

    "We could lessen their influence if we just instituted public financing of Congressional campaigns, Term Limits and Lobbying Reform." (Michael Casler)

    This is an issue Michael Casler is dead-on!
    This is the heart of our current problems in Washington and State politics.

    Money corrupts. Therefore, the political system is corrupt.

    Our system of government is complex! The frame work looks good, the words sounds good, but our system is inherently a corruptible system. More so, we are seeing an attack on the system from those who are not following what many in Americans call the America Spirit. Working hard, go to school, give back to the community, take care of your family and help your friends, serve in the arm forces, and be a responsible citizen, by being informed voter.

  5. "Even the British band Ten Years After had that figured out when they sang, "Tax the rich, feed the poor till there are no rich no more."

    Miller -- excellent letter in so many ways! I've got a better ending, though -- Motorhead's "Eat the Rich"!

    "The taker mentality you describe is the one that appeared in 2011, a year before elections, it was called the occupy movement."

    RefNV -- hardly. It's been around as long as mankind discovered he was just a faster-evolving herd animal.

    "Democracy is another word for the tyranny of the majority."

    CarmineD -- excellent post. I'd say "mob rule" along with your tyranny description. One of the Federalist Papers clarified the difference between democracies and republics is protecting the rights of minorities from factions.

    "In most cases socialism exists only because an experiment in unbridled capitalism failed first and socialism succeeds very well in many instances."

    pisces -- another good post. It's like a pendulum, no? And history shows it seems to just keep swinging from one extreme to the other.

    "It was the same with those old birds in Greece and Rome as it is now. . . . The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." -- President Harry Truman on the insight "Plutarch's Lives" gave him

  6. Mr. Frank talks about the unproductive, parasitic class. Is he referring to us? A bunch of old farts sitting behind computers all day long collecting pensions, Social Security, Medicare etc..

  7. make that Mr. Fink.

    Every economic system has its pluses and minuses. They all collapse in the end. Even the Roman Empire collapsed after about 500 years. American-style capitalism in particular has led to excessive consumption, overutilization of natural resources, and Third World wealth inequality. Price dislocations in areas such as medical care are the stuff of legend. Currently two thirds of the people in the United States are hard-pressed to come up with a couple thousand dollars get a couple days in the hospital can cost as much as a house.

    Shortages of food, water and other natural resources will cause a dramatic shift in the way people live around the world. in places like England and France houses have sold for close to $1 billion. In California and New York houses have sold for in excess of $100 million. That doesn't sit well when most families in the world make about $50,000 a year or less.

  8. Mr. Freeman is absolutely correct. Union membership has been declining. A fairly substantial portion of our workforce used to be union. Welfare has taken the place of unions in the sense that currently about half the country is getting some type of welfare stipend. About 35% of the workforce used to be union.

    In 1985 there were 112,000 defined-benefit pension plans helping Americans live out their lives with some type of dignity. Currently there are 25,000. Many of our seniors are living out their lives in total poverty trying to get by on $1000 a month Social Security checks and a Medicare card.

    You can either have education, excellent wages and benefits, or welfare. There is very little in between.

  9. There's something fundamentally flawed about a society that increasingly uses wealth accumulation as a principal measure of success.

  10. Hmmmm...I wonder how Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland have done during the latest capitalist implosion?

  11. I agree with Lobo and Mr. Weber. Too much greed fosters corruption. Corruption is a cancer that is eating us alive. Last week the GAO put out a report that puts the financial crisis tab at $22 trillion. That wipes out a substantial segment of Americans.
    Millions that crave the dream and have nothing to show for years of hard work.

  12. A note on the idea of "payers" vs "takers." Everyone uses the terms relative to individuals - those who pay for government and those who take from it. That's only part of the story. Now for the rest:

    During the period 1990- 2009, a minority (21 of 50) states paid more money (payers) to the Federal government than they received. 3/4 of those states are liberal ("tax more and spend") states. The majority (29 of 50)of states took more from the Federal government (takers) than they received, 2/3 of these are conservative (slash spending/cut taxes) states.

    Summary: Generally, those states whose elected Federal representatives argue the most vehemently about a need to cut government expenditures receive more of those expenditures than those willing to consider raising taxes to, at least in part, cover expenditures.

  13. So Reno your saying the great state of Nevada is more or less a tumor on the rear end of the U.S.

  14. Perhaps Sheldon and the kook brothers are bigger ones.

  15. "Carmine......

    Your desperation is showing again.

    You need to get over the huge republican loss." @ Teamster

    I'll make you a deal. I will when you get over the union losses. Fair enough?


    (former AFSCME Chief Steward)

  16. "What union losses?

    The TEAMSTERS UNION is the strongest union in the
    United States." @ Teamster

    Surely you jest. The private unions are at an all time low in membership. Public unions are doing the best and that's because they are a monopoly. In case you missed the election results, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker crushed the public unions and the voters agreed with him. The Supreme Court struck down the two appointments by President Obama on January 3, 2012 to the NLRB [Just like I said to you it would: Null and Void]. Both were pro-union and their over 200 pro-union decisions will be thrown out. Right to work [read anti-union] states are beating out union states for jobs. Michigan voters dealt a major blow to unions by refusing to accept collective bargaining as a right. Ohio likely will do so next...And Congress is about to deliver another blow to unions by passing immigration reform with a Guest Worker program which President Obama thanks to Trumka has been against since 2005-2007. And the immigrants will water down the ranks of the union by taking jobs union employees don't want. Would you like me to continue or did I pierce your armor of denial?

    CarmineD [former AFSCME Chief Steward no longer in denial]

  17. Hookershaky (Michael Kelly)writng at 7:37 p.m. Sunday "quotes" me as alleging "So Reno your saying the great state of Nevada is more or less a tumor on the rear end of the U.S."

    I have no IDEA where he got that impression! As a matter of fact, once again Nevada is in the minority - among those states that send more funds to Washington than they receive. Those "tumors" are composed the "red" states - as I clearly noted. And, as I defined the term, Nevada is NOT a red state (at least not right now...)

  18. Carmine,

    SCOTUS has NOT ruled on those appointments yet, it was the US District Court of Appeals that did so. The case is now waiting for SCOTUS to say whether or not it will hear it.

  19. "Carmine,

    SCOTUS has NOT ruled on those appointments yet, it was the US District Court of Appeals that did so. The case is now waiting for SCOTUS to say whether or not it will hear it." boftx

    True and it may not for some time. Which complicates the NLRB further. Why? One of the 3 members is stepping down. Leaving the 2 bogus appointees. And the Board is still doing its thing in direct violation of the Appellate court's ruling and without a quorum of at least 3 of 5 members. The Supreme Court will have a field day with the Constitutional violations of the Board and the President's bogus appointments. I fully expect it [Supreme Court] to take the President to the water shed on the NLRB as pay back for the President's out of place scolding in the State of the Union in January 2009 to the Supreme Court Justices. Pay back is heck and don't think it [Supreme Court] doesn't keep score. It does.