Politics

Why Democracy Is Not Sacred

Understanding the problems with democracy.

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We live in the era of democratic triumphalism. Democracy is a sacred value, voting a civic sacrament. To paraphrase Auberon Herbert, we no longer see kings as majestic, but we imbue every voter with a share of kingly majesty. Most Americans regard universal, equal suffrage as necessary to express the idea that all people have equal worth. They regard democracy as an end in itself. We may criticize democracy, but to suggest we experiment with an alternative is sacrilege.

Here's a different take. Democracy has the kind of value a hammer has, nothing more. It's a pretty good hammer, too. Empirically, democracies do a better job protecting civil and economic liberty and promoting general prosperity than other existing forms of government. Still, if democracy is nothing more than a hammer, we should feel free to use a better tool, if we can find one. No one insists on using a hammer when a wrench works better.

The central problem with democracy is that it "works." Politicians and bureaucrats have significant power to do as they please, but they also answer to the people. To win elections, politicians push agendas that appeal to voters. But 65 years of research finds that voters are systematically misinformed about both the basic facts (crime and unemployment rates, who controls Congress and what they did in power, etc.) and about the social scientific knowledge needed to make sense of those facts. Voters advocate policies they would not advocate if they were better informed. They wield their power incompetently, and we all suffer the consequences: more war, overly punitive criminal sentencing, trade barriers, counterproductive welfare policies, and the like.

Voters aren't stupid; they just don't care. Since individual votes make no difference, voters have no incentive to correct mistaken beliefs, and every incentive to indulge their worst biases and delusions. Imagine a professor in a 210 million-person class told her students she'll average their final exam grades together and give them all the same grade. Students wouldn't bother to study; the average grade would be an F. That's how democracy works.

My middle school civics teacher told me democracy rests on the consent of the governed. She was wrong. Even in democracy, our relationship to the government is not consensual. In a consensual relationship, yes means yes, no means no. For government, your no means yes. Try telling a cop arresting you for marijuana possession that you voted against the law. Regardless of whether you vote or how you vote, the same laws apply to you anyway. We can't even say that we tacitly consent to the law by choosing to live in our country. Most of us lack the right to move elsewhere.

Some philosophers claim that democracies give citizens autonomous control over their government. That's misleading. It's true that the collective majority has significant power, but no individual within that majority (or the minority) has any significant power. Democracy empowers groups, not individuals. For each of us, had we stayed home or voted the other way, the same outcome would have occurred. Stripping you of the right to vote doesn't reduce your autonomy; giving you the right to vote doesn't increase it.

Many philosophers extol the symbolic value of democracy. The great left-liberal philosopher John Rawls claimed that justice requires democracy because non-democratic systems communicate that some people are better than others. This hurts people's self-esteem and social standing. It's a strange claim, but Rawls is on to something. The Nazis made Jews wear Stars of David as a public badge signaling their inferiority. In Western liberal democracies, we use the right to vote to express the opposite message, that we consider certain people full and equal members of society.

Sure, we treat the right to vote this way. But it's not written into the fabric of the universe that the right to vote has that meaning. It's easy to imagine a society made of people, well, like me. Imagine a society where politics had no special status, and where lacking the right to vote carried no further stigma than lacking a plumbing license carries in our world. We can debate whether plumbing licenses are a good idea on economic grounds, but no one thinks that plumbing licenses separate society into superior and inferior classes. Lacking a plumbing license doesn't lessen my social standing. We could think the same way about voting rights; we just don't. The "expressive meaning" of the right to vote is merely a contingent social construct.

Social constructs can, and sometimes should, be changed. Suppose we discovered that sound vibrations caused by saying "Go to hell!" somehow cured cancer. We would change the meaning of the words. We would make "Go to hell!" an informal greeting. We wouldn't insist that saying "Go to hell!" must express contempt.

What if we also discovered certain alternatives to democracy (such as polycentric legal orders, lotteries, betting markets, or systems that allocate voting rights according to knowledge) produced better, more efficient and just, laws? We could insist that these systems are evil because they inherently express contempt for some citizens. Or we could instead say that this system is morally superior to democracy, and that there's no reason to treat the right to vote as anything more significant than a plumbing license. We could, and should, change the meaning attached to the right to vote. Politics is not a poem.

Now, whether any such systems would work better is an empirical question. Still, most political scientists and economists refuse to even consider them, because they too are entranced by the symbolic value of democracy.

The right to vote is not like other liberal rights. The right of free speech gives individuals power over themselves. Voting rights give the majority power over everyone. The only thing that could justify democracy is if no other system does a better job protecting our rights and promoting prosperity. Democracy is a hammer, nothing more. It has built-in defects. It's time to start considering alternatives.

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  1. Voters aren’t stupid; they just don’t care.
    Some voters are stupid. Some don’t care. Some are highly informed.

    1. Being highly informed seems like a waste of effort. That might be considered “stupid.”

      1. Considering all of your highly informed voting is immediately canceled out by the bozo in line behind you, there doesn’t seem to be much value in it.

        Then again, highly informed doesn’t determine how you vote, only that you are voting on purpose.

    2. Part of it is culture. All too many equate ignorance with stupidity. We learn this from very young age. Ignorance is not a bad thing any more than having a broken leg makes you a bad person, and like the broken leg, ignorance can be healed. Culture tells us to hobble around on broken legs and pretend that we are not. Part ego, part stoicism, and even part pride in our own ignorance. Pride, because it forms a social connection with other ignorant people, a tribe. Are you “bad at math?” Well, so is most of society. Your parents say “don’t feel bad, so was I.” The kid who isn’t is the one who shattered the curve. Let’s meet him after class.

      Even libertarians fall victim to this kind of thinking. Emergent order is useful, but it is not everything. Emergent order fails when everyone is inexperienced, when emotions are dominating reason, and where culture overrides all other concerns. Experienced first responders know how to handle the victims of a car crash. In most other cases, you simply get the bystander effect because nobody knows what to do nor do they want to take responsibility. Emotions twist emergent order into a mob. Culture turns it into firebombing a abortion clinics.

      America is not a democracy. It’s a republic that we failed to keep. Almost all of the power coalesced in D.C. The idea was never that we’d have to leave the country if we didn’t agree with a democratic result, it was that we could leave a state that better reflected our values.

      1. Nobody has ever given me a good answer as to why people living thousands of miles apart have to live in pretty much exactly the same way.

  2. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    1. Democracy is the punishment you inflict on geniuses like Jonathan Gruber.

      1. Gruber’s rotting corpse should still be swinging from a lamp post.*

        Note to Preet B.: The above comment is intended as a morid joke, and should not be taken seriously.

      2. Not really. Do you think it is a coincidence that the authoritarian left loves democracy? It is the vehicle through which they derive the moral legitimacy for all of the immoral shit they want to do. All they have to do is convince the dumbest among us to go along and by some political alchemy the morally repugnant becomes the morally virtuous. This will continue to be the case until the dumb masses start voting for things they don’t like. When that happens Gruber’s fellow travelers will no longer have any use for “democracy”. In the meantime it is a blessing for them not a curse.

        1. When that happens Gruber’s fellow travelers will no longer have any use for “democracy”. In the meantime it is a blessing for them not a curse.

          Then what? You don’t rise on the back of the majority, then spit in their faces and sleep well at night. Not for long anyway. Gruber or his kids are going to have to get themselves some state-mandated healthcare or visit a doctor with a federally-subsidized college degree sometime.

          1. “Then what” is you start dropping friendly articles in the press over a period of years talking about the need to limit democracy. Maybe you could start with some fawning articles about how China can really get things done because they don’t have to worry about “democracy”. A suspicious person might conclude this process has already started.

    2. Or just standing in line with them.

    3. There’s a ballot question in MA this year about increasing the cap on the number of charter schools. A public school teacher (traditional, not charter) proudly posted this on her facebook:

      Waiting in line to vote:
      Person in line behind me to the person with her: How are you voting on the charter school question? I don’t really care.
      Me: As a public school teacher I encourage you to vote no.
      PINBM: Yeah I think that’s what I’m going to do.

      Maybe it’ll make all the difference.

      This teacher has also been on board with the “voting is virtuous” bullshit that’s been spewed lately. The woman she talked to literally decided her vote based on what some stranger in line next to her told her to, and apparently she thinks this is a good thing.

      1. Wonder how the PINMB voted on question 4?

        1. Presumably however the person behind her was voting.

      2. Isnt that electioneering and a violation of the law?

      3. The mother of a friend of mine is a public school teacher and is rabidly for crushing charter schools. Another friend of mine is a private school teacher and she’s all for more charters. The best I can tell, that’s how the outcome will break on that question.

        1. People who work for the government shouldn’t get to vote on how government (taxpayer) money is spent.

          1. I’ll go you one further. People who aren’t going to have to pay the tax or fee on a ballot question shouldn’t get to vote on it either, but that ain’t how it works is it? The takers are >50% of the voting population and that is a problem that causes much of the death spiral we are currently in. I see no change in this trend.

      4. What astounds me is the total shamelessness about advocating a position that is designed restrict her competition. Vote no, because I like money and want some more.

      5. No. The woman she talked to decided to flatter the stranger next in line by convincing hir s/he was persuasive.

  3. Didn’t reason post an article yesterday claiming that the rule of law doesn’t matter because only the voters should decide which politicians should be punished for breaking it?

    1. Why yes, I believe they did.

      The big misconception about democracy is that it is both necessary and sufficient to confer legitimacy. Necessary? Perhaps. Sufficient? Not even.

      1. Well I know some people who say it is sufficient. More than one.

    2. It’s almost like Reason publishes articles from more than one person.

    3. What’s your point exactly?

      1. People continue to be confused by the fact that Reason employs different people with varying perspectives and sometimes quite different opinions on issues, and allows all of them a forum to express those opinions. It’s understandable, since Reason often deals with issues of fine nuance regarding decidedly non-mainstream ideologies, whereas a lot of other publications are just geared towards exclusively promoting almost cartoonishly stereotypical apologetics for whichever side of the traditional ideological divide they find themselves on.

        1. It’s understandable

          No it isn’t.

          1. I WAS BEING POLITE YOU FUCKING ASSFACE!!!

              1. No it isn’t.

        2. None of that means they should publish Shikha or Richman

  4. Democracy – the god that failed.

    1. Hoppe and Change?

      1. Well done.

        1. Hoppe is an interesting character, but he associates himself, too often, with some ugly thinkers. Plus, I think it is a bit extreme for him to denounce the Mount Pelerin group as ‘all socialists’. He’s spot on about ‘democracy’, though.

          1. Just perused Hoppe’s 2010 criticism of the Society. There appears to be some evidence to support his position.

            To wit, he cites Ed Feulner, long-time grand pubah at the Heritage Foundation and former Mount Pelerin president. Hoppe’s position is that conservative and limited government think-tanks are socialists because they have long served as intellectual shills for the ever expanding warfare-welfare state. He notes that most of them set-up shop in or near The Capitol.

  5. “It’s time to start considering alternatives.”

    You mean, like, a certain governing document written circa 1789 that made individual liberty, not unbridled majority rule, the dominant theory of government?

    1. I was coming here to add this. The founders of America certainly did not hold democracy sacred. Shit, they tried everything they could to make sure that the only people who could vote on laws and taxes were elected by a plurality of men who had no possible interest in free bread and circuses.

      1. At the same time, if you read Ben Franklin’s autobiography you will see that his appointment as postmaster was basically a form of graft.

        So, I don’t know that they’d be too bent out of shape about Hillary’s issues.

        1. If hope exists, that’s where it is: the fact that gov’t has basically always been about as corrupt as can be, there have always been dirty inside deals and patronage, and perhaps, like crime, it’s just that it’s more widely known and reported on now without actually being present in greater amounts.

          The real promise of this country, such as it was, died with the Whiskey Rebellion.

          1. Yes, Jim, it did.

          2. I think you’ve hit it. The one thing that perks me up is realizing that it has always been thus.

            Franklin wanted to be postmaster because 1) income and 2) the prior postmaster wouldn’t deliver his newspaper. The prior postmaster had his own newspaper.

            Can you fcking believe that? A government postmaster would not deliver mail that competed with his business interests.

            Franklin’s solution was not to denounce the corruption, but to replace it.

            I honestly think we’d be better off had Hillary beaten Obama. Much better a few hundred million in graft for arms deals we were going to make anyway, then trillions of spending and this obamacare fiasco. I don’t think Hillary would have had the cred to impose Hillarycare 2.0.

            1. This. Hillary in 08 would have been a disastrous one term shit show and the GOP would have unified around crushing her. Oh well.

          3. Damn, Gojira. That’s pretty fuckin’ bleak.

      2. It was intentionally designed to be a mixed system, harking back to Aristotle, Locke, Montesquieu, and others. Interesting that we thought about things on such a broad scale then. Now, the politicians, the media, and the voters have no thoughts except for immediate expediency. Great way to create a bankrupt tyranny–not so much a prosperous republic.

        1. Is this the real ProL or merely a ghola?

          1. Oh, it’s me all right. Rested and ready to ingest a lot of spice essence.

            1. So ProLib is really Duncan Idaho?

              1. Well, I’m some form of Kwittheshitz Hadenough.

  6. Today’s election of Clinton as president will be a huge vindication for democracy and more importantly, free speech, without which the anarcho-Trumpkin Nazis could not have been demoralized and discredited. Furthermore, the election of conservatives to congress, to maintain a counterbalance against her for the next 4 years until Rand can take the reins, will be the greatest vindication of them all. (Ye of little faith.)

    1. It’s a good sign that so many people are skeptical of Trump and vocal in their opposition to him.
      It’s a bad sign that so many people don’t realize Clinton is just as bad (or worse).

    2. anarcho-Trumpkin Nazis

      I must admit, this has a certain brilliance in how utterly incoherent and internally contradictory it is.

      2/10 authentic frontier gibberish

      1. The best part is, this isn’t the first time he’s rolled out that nugget.

        1. Ah. I thought I had seen “anarcho-Trumpkins” and “Trumpkin Nazis” before, but not the winning trifecta of “anarcho-Trumpkin Nazis”.

          1. That’s like McBain’s “Commie-Nazis.”

  7. What I love are the people who yell at me how I have some duty to vote, but they only get off their ass and do it for presidential elections. If it’s a duty, then most of the people pushing that narrative are obviously derelict. It all feeds into the cult of the presidency – which Reason is often willing to go along with, especially to attack Trump. As fucked up as the feds are, the most bullshit I deal with comes at the local and then state levels. Most interactions we have with government are based on policies set at those levels.

    I still say it should be mandatory that ‘none of the above’ appear on the ballot. And if it gets the most choices, no one fills the god damn office.

    1. Everyone could just cast blank ballots.

      1. And then the vote counters could mark it according to their preferences.

    2. “As fucked up as the feds are, the most bullshit I deal with comes at the local and then state levels.”

      While this could not be more accurate, I still believe the national elections (Prez/Congress) are far more invaluable. One, those elections often set the temperature for governance at the lower levels. But, also, it comes down to mobility. It is far easier for me to move from my town, my county, my state, than it is out of country.

    3. ^This^

      The shitheads who only vote in presidential elections and never vote in mid-terms or local elections yet get all sanctimonious about the Sacred Rights of Spring Fall (but only every 4 years) are some of the most irritating people on the fucking planet. They’re pretty much at or near the top of the list of “people we could do without,” right below the politicians they enable.

      1. Wasn’t this what I basically said last week to you all right here? They can keep their silly “I voted” stickers too! (btw, I though one was not supposed to be printing a flag on disposable objects???)

    4. Somebody once said that, by kicking out King George III we traded one despot 3,000 miles away for 3,000 despots one mile away.

      1. Mel Gibson as Some Guy In A Sound Movie.

  8. The great left-liberal philosopher John Rawls claimed that justice requires democracy because non-democratic systems communicate that some people are better than others.

    Democratic systems can do a pretty good job of that, too. Tyranny of the majority is a thing.

    1. Some people also are better than others.

      1. If they weren’t, we’d still be eating rock soup with a side of lichen.

      2. Diana Moon Glampers would like a word with you

    2. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

  9. I’m taking issue with a number of the basic premises here.

    “Most Americans regard universal, equal suffrage as necessary to express the idea that all people have equal worth.”

    The entire purpose of progressives is to use the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices for the common good. They do not believe their enemies are deserving of equal suffrage. They believe in using as elections as a pretext to power, but when that doesn’t work, they want elites to force the issue.

    Did you hear about the Paris climate change treaty agreement?

    “Empirically, democracies do a better job protecting civil and economic liberty and promoting general prosperity than other existing forms of government.”

    I’d like to see your data.

    The great thing about democracies is that we get to kick our leaders out periodically.

    Protecting civil and economic liberty and the general prosperity is more about the rule of law.

    Since Obama was elected in 2008, our government has done a terrible job of protecting those things–from the individual mandate to the CFPB and beyond.

    1. Indeed, I suspect a Constitutionally limited Monarchy might do a superior job

    2. “The great thing about democracies is that we get to kick our leaders out periodically.”

      Really? Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms would disagree. Seriously, there are things I would like to see changed in balloting in each state to make kicking our leaders out easier. I cannot speak for all states, but I imagine most are like mine; they list which candidate is the incumbent and list them first on the ballot. This gives the impression to the stupid voter that that candidate has done a good job, or is somehow more qualified. Hell, while we’re bullshitting, I would like to see party affiliation removed from the ballot. If you are so uninformed that you do not what party your candidates are affiliated with, you probably shouldn’t vote.

      1. Hell, while we’re bullshitting, I would like to see party affiliation removed from the ballot. If you are so uninformed that you do not what party your candidates are affiliated with, you probably shouldn’t vote.

        One more reform to go along with that one: voters are allowed to ask poll workers questions, but if they have to ask which candidates belong to which parties, the poll workers will take the ballot away and run it through a shredder.

        1. I’d to have an “anti-vote”. If you really want to vote against someone, you can. But that means you don’t get to vote for anyone.

      2. “The great thing about democracies is that we get to kick our leaders out periodically.”

        Well, we get a chance to kick them out periodically.

        We don’t always do so, but at least representative democracy gives us the opportunity–even if we don’t use it.

        That’s its saving grace.

    3. The great thing about democracies is that we get to kick our leaders out periodically.

      We hate Congress but reelect our Congressmen at a rate higher than the Soviet Politburo or the hereditary British House of Lords.

      1. The other problem with representative democracy is that it’s insufficiently democratic.

        Markets are democratic. Instead of taking your pulse once ever four or six years, they take it every minute of every day. They’re even sensitive to your refusal to participate!

        Elections are nowhere near as sensitive to the will of the people as markets.

        Also, again, just because we don’t use our opportunity to get rid of politicians doesn’t mean having it is a bad thing.

        It’s a good thing to be able to kick our politicians out if we want.

        The sad truth is that one of the reasons many Americans don’t kick their politicians out is because they’re happy with their own politicians. The biggest problem America faces is the American people. If we lose our respect for individual rights and the rule of law, we shouldn’t blame our politicians. We should look in the mirror and blame ourselves.

        . . . of course, no politician is ever going to tell us to do that.

        1. Jimmy Carter tried that in his Crisis of Confidence speech.

          That went badly.

  10. Here, here. Democracy does not protect liberty, it is a threat to liberty.

  11. Is this the Bleeding Heart Libertarians guy who wants to restrict voting to people with masters degrees, something along those lines? Yeah, fuck him. How that could be considered as anything us that a purer distillation of TOPMENism, I have no idea.

    1. Yeah because intellectuals have such a great track record of respecting freedom. There are few things more comically stupid than claiming that education is somehow associated with enlightened government at all much less respect for freedom.

      1. Public education is essential to the well being of democracy!

        If you had a nickel for every time you have heard that bromide, you would be an oligarch. I know I would be.

      2. There are few things more comically stupid than claiming that education is somehow associated with enlightened government at all much less respect for freedom.

        Except for leftists, for whom “enlightened government” means “whatever leftist academics say” and who don’t respect freedom except in the most superficial ways.

  12. Democracy in its pure form is nothing but majority rule. Democracy is not sacred. What is sacred or should be is popular sovereignty; that is the ultimate right of a free people to rule themselves and determine the shape and scope of their government.

    We have a republic and not a democracy because the majority is not always right and people are easily spooked, emotional and prone to overreact. A Republic serves to temper those things by making it difficult for the popular will to immediately effect its on the government. We have a Republic and not a tyranny or monarchy because while the popular will should not always and immediately be put into effect, the people and the popular will has the ultimate say about how they if indeed if they shall be governed. No government is legitimate without the consent of the governed no government that is not in some form a Republic and recognizes the people’s final say on things can be said to have such consent.

    Whenever some self appointed “top man” starts writing about the evils of Democracy, one should always respond by pointing out the virtues of a Republic and the necessity of the consent of the governed.

    1. A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

      1. Sure they are. That is why we have a Republic. If you don’t believe in consent of the governed, then I don’t see how you can also believe in freedom.

        1. From Men In Black

          1. Yes, Sorry I missed the reference.

            1. no problem.

              you just triggered me . . because the majority is not always right and people are easily spooked, . . 😉

        2. Its also why we have the EC system.

          Which, in a perfect world, could save us from ourselves this year.

          A close race and a few brave rogue electors could do it. Of course, we could end up with President Jeb! like I mentioned in the morning links, so not sure how much of a salvation it is.

          1. That is exactly why we have the EC and two Senators per state. You can’t just tell people from small states they don’t get any say in their government.

            One of the worst Supreme Court decisions of the last Century was the one, I forget the name, that required the states to go to one man one vote in all of their legislatures. States used to have Senates similar to the US Senate that ensured every part of the state had a say in government. Now thanks to the courts, the states just have two legislative bodies that are both elected by population. The result has been for rural areas of states to be completely shut out of any say in government. The people in places like upstate New York or Western Maryland or the central valley of California are now subject to the unaccountable rule of the urban areas of their states. And that has been very bad for the country.

            1. It also led to GA having an insane number of tiny counties, and the odd dumbbell shape that is Fulton County. It was gerrymandering to get more state senate seats.

              I dont have a problem with the 1 person, 1 vote rule for State senates, but I do think the two houses should have more radically different forms. Like one voted by district and the other statewide proportional by party or something.

              Using KY as an example, keep the 100 districts for the House. The 38 senate seats have 19 come up every other 2 years (4 year terms). Instead of having larger districts, do it statewide proportional, you get a seat for ~every 5% of the vote your party gets.

              But the powers that be arent interested in interesting.

              1. dont have a problem with the 1 person, 1 vote rule for State senates, but I do think the two houses should have more radically different forms. Like one voted by district and the other statewide proportional by party or something.

                I agree and that is what I am saying and that is the way it used to be. The Court ruled that having a senate that whose representation is set by geography rather than population violated the one man one vote rule. So now all state legislatures are elected by districts of equal population regardless of geography instead of having a state house that is elected that way and a senate that is elected by districts set by geography and regardless of population.

                They basically fucked all the rural areas of the country of any say in state government.

                1. Unless you are talking about Iowa or any other state that is still majority rural. City streets are crap, but we have some of the finest county roads in the country.

                2. They basically fucked all the rural areas of the country of any say in state government.

                  Not exactly, although it often seems that way in practice. They fucked the essential checks on mob rule insanity that most (every?) state had, modeled after the U.S. Congress. An interesting line of argumentation might be,

                  – The U.S. Constitution requires that Congress enforce a republican form of government upon the States;
                  – The U.S. Senate membership is selected by State boundaries without regard to proportional representation of the population;
                  – The U.S. Government is inarguably republican in character;
                  – Thus how can the States be forbidden from having a legislative body chosen in a manner similar to the U.S. Senate?

            2. One of the worst Supreme Court decisions of the last Century was the one, I forget the name, that required the states to go to one man one vote in all of their legislatures.

              It began with Baker v. Carr and was fully cemented by Reynolds v. Sims.

              Unsurprisingly, Earl Warren once remarked that his pushing for the courts to insert themselves into state legislative matters was the greatest accomplishment of his career. Who knew that they gave out awards for destroying 50 sovereign republics in one fell swoop?

              Incidentally, it is interesting to see your position here in contrast with your comments on Ira Stoll’s op-ed yesterday about independent counsels. Scalia’s dissent, admittedly not well understood or explained by Stoll, was about the same underlying principle: separation of powers between the branches.

              1. I have never read Scalia’s dissent in that case. So my criticism was really directed at Stoll. That said, I don’t see a conflict between saying “everyone should have some kind of say in the government” and saying “the people in that government should not be above the law and some matters are important enough we should not just leave it to the voters to sort out”.

                1. Indeed, it is not left to the voters, nor even to the executive, to check the excesses of his branch. It is left to the Congress, but not in the specific manner of an independent counsel. Congress has the power of impeachment, the power of the purse, and perhaps the greatest power of all, the legislative power.

          2. yes but, in the grand scheme of things isn’t President Jeb objectively superior to either Hillary or Trump? Especially given that he goes in with absolutely no support from anywhere really and would have little choice but to govern as a caretaker President until he had a chance to run for re election in 4 years?

            1. They can’t put Jeb in. You have to finish in the top three of the electoral voting.

              1. You and SIV need a civics lesson.

                An EC voter can vote for anyone they want (that is qualified and one of the two isnt from their state).

                Jeb absolutely can finish 3rd.

                Plenty of people have finished 3rd in the EC voting without winning a state. It just didnt happen without the winner getting 270.

                1. In 2004 Edwards finished 3rd with 1 EC vote.
                  In 1988 Bentsen finished 3rd with 1 EC vote.
                  In 1972 Hospers finished 3rd with 1 EC vote.

                  If any had been 269-268-1, the House could have chosen that third place finisher.

                2. Bush and Cheney were from the same state, and were still elected by the EC.

                  1. Texas and Wyoming?

                    Cheney moved back to Wyoming at least a month or two before the EC vote.

                    Possibly between November election and December EC vote.

                  2. Cheney was from Wyoming. You could make arguments for Nebraska, I guess, but he wasn’t from Texas or Massachusetts.

                3. An EC voter can vote for anyone they want (that is qualified and one of the two isnt from their state).

                  Correct. Although some states do have laws against “faithless electors” but in most cases that’s true. Also, I suppose an elector from a state with laws against it can still choose to break the law in an act of civil disobedience. Once the votes are counted, what are they gonna do? Besides whatever punishment the law calls for, natch.

                  1. Once the votes are counted, what are they gonna do? Besides whatever punishment the law calls for, natch.

                    Make you a felon so that you can never vote again?

              2. Rogue Elector

                1. Rogue Elector

                  SIV doesnt suprise me, but it shocks me that John doesnt understand this.

              3. Well in that case a tie means either President Trump or possibly President Johnson. The absolute best case scenario in the House for the Democrats is a 24/24 split with 2 tied delegations but more likely Republicans will control more than 25 Delegations and I suspect the delegations will be unanimous in how they vote so the only question would be does Ryan back Trump or do they dump him and pick Johnson.

    2. OTOH, I think that when the average American hears the word, “democracy,” they take it as shorthand not just for free elections, but also what are supposed to be all of the attributes of our form of government: rule of law, civil liberties, separation of powers, independent judiciary, etc.

      1. Yes. and that is because we don’t have meaningful civic education anymore.

    3. Get it straight: “Republic” & “democracy” are synonyms. If you choose to apply a distinction, use other words or qualifiers to make that clear.

      1. It is straight. The entire post is about the differences between the two. I have no idea what you are talking about here.

        1. The differences you impute are not inherent to the words “republic” & “democracy”. Either can take on any of aspects.

  13. Restore a mixed system with additional checks and balances. And make it easy and practically automatic to oust anyone in government for unconstitutional acts, corruption, etc.

    The only hope is to make it a lot harder for politicians to abuse power.

    1. Maybe we could create a system where state and local governments are presumed to have authority over things and then over that create a small federal government to handle a short list of things that the states are not able to handle like foreign diplomacy, national defense and ensuring there is one national market for goods and the states don’t impede interstate commerce?

      The idea is so crazy, it just might work.

      1. Constitution+. The original fell a little short.

        1. The original was great. It just wasn’t ready for the Supreme Court to rape it.

          1. Aha, in order to be raped, it must be living!

            1. I like that. The Living Constitution; Bringing the Constitution to life so the courts can rape it.

            2. Unless the Nazgul are necrophiliacs.

          2. I cannot lay down my pen without recurring to one of the subjects of my former letter, for in truth there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming instrumentality of the Supreme court.

            ~Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William Johnson”

            1. Every part of government needs to be checked.

      2. Maybe we could create a system where state and local governments are presumed to have authority over things and then over that create a small federal government to handle a short list of things that the states are not able to handle like foreign diplomacy, national defense and ensuring there is one national market for goods and the states don’t impede interstate commerce?

        I think the Constitution was a good shot, but rule of law is still a fiction. We started with the single best attempt at a individual sovereignty-protecting government, and it was irrevocably fucked up less than 200 years later. Now, going on 250 years later, we have a standard euro-inspired social democracy.

        Nothing is ever going to fix the fact that there is a massive tension between the community-oriented cities and the self-sufficient rural areas. Nothing can fix the tension between the utopian busybodies and the free-rangers. Nothing can fix the tension between the theocrats and the militant atheists.

        The fact is that there are more people who want the safety of a top-down command & control society than people who want to be able to live their lives and take risks without a paternalistic government getting in their way. It used to be that the self-sufficient could escape into the wilderness or the frontier and be left alone. That is no longer the case.

        1. Remember that the Constitution implicitly recognized that the states could and probably were going to run over people’s rights. It was in the beginning modest in its goals. It only sought to create a limited federal government that kept us from being annexed by foreign powers and most importantly ensured the free movement of goods and people between the states. That way when the states got tyrannical, people could vote with their feet and go to another state.

          Where the constitution went wrong was when it applied the BOR to the states and essentially made the federal government the national guarantor of rights rather than a small entity whose purpose was to keep the states from becoming their own nations. It is counter intuitive to say it was a bad thing to apply the BOR to the states, but it was. All doing that did was give the federal government power over things that were supposed to be left to the states. In doing this, it laid the groundwork for all of the expansions to come. Once they federal government was seen as the guarantor of individual rights at the state level, it was an easy leap to see it as being the guarantor of anything else it wanted. And once people had that impulse, reading the commerce clause as a trapdoor designed to drop the entire federal system out of the bottom of the document and create an all powerful federal government was merely a formality.

    2. As always, my solution involves falling rocks.

      1. It’s one heck of a veto.

      2. Rocks fall, everyone dies?

        1. No, no, just small, well-placed rocks.

          1. Or possibly just the threat of large, indiscriminately placed rocks.

            1. The key is rocks. And gravity. And kinetic forces.

        2. I caught your reference, nerd.

          1. I thought everyone here would get it.

            1. I am sorely disappointed in the lack of reference-getting going on in this thread.

              1. You don’t need to acknowledge a reference to get it.

    3. Will Trump carry any of the counties near you, like Lee, Collier, Hillsborough, Sarasota, etc?

      1. Heck if I know. I voted for Johnson, as did my wife.

        1. Hopefully, while holding your nose – at least insofar as the bottom half of the ticket is concerned.

          1. What tiny little chance my vote for Johnson matters, the EC system protects the bottom half from mattering at all.

            As a means to get 2% state wide for ballot access, even the top half doesnt matter.

          2. No fan of Weld at all, and not thrilled with Johnson, but at least he’s heard of limited government.

            1. I rather like the Gary Johnson story up to the point where entered the political arena.

              1. By contrast, I have never liked the Bill Weld story.

                1. Was there ever a time when Weld wasn’t in the political arena? As far as I know he’s been a government employee/ politician his entire career.

                  “There’s your problem!”

                  1. Trust fund baby to start. Then onto the Ivies and then to meet the Hildebeast in Washington as they were both on one of the Senate or House Watergate committees.

  14. Say, why not make any laws that make government officials exempt (e.g., insider trading, pensions, pay raises) subject to a popular vote? And maybe federal recall? I think some of the checks need to be nondemocratic, as intended in the Constitution, but there are a few that might be better handed to the people.

    1. Don’t forget healthcare.

      About the only one I think should stand would be impeding their travel on the way to the legislative building.

      You don’t want one side with a policeman with a ticket book in their pocket to be able to keep someone from voting on a bill.

  15. “…I have had such a sickening of men in masses, and of causes, that I would not cross this room to reform parliament or prevent the union or to bring about the millennium. I speak only for myself, mind – it is my own truth alone – but man as part of a movement or a crowd is indifferent to me. He is inhuman. And I have nothing to do with nations, or nationalism. The only feelings I have – for what they are – are for men as individuals; my loyalties, such as they may be, are to private persons alone.”

    1. +1 Patrick O’Brian!

  16. A democracy, or even a republic, that is respectful of individual rights requires a populace that believes in those rights and demands they be respected. We don’t have that anymore. In fact, we have a populace that is mostly interested in its free pony and what you’re going to do to punish the other guy.

    1. And then it simply comes down to whomever yields the democratic majority to inflict the type of tyranny the writers of the Federalist Papers strove to prevent.

      1. Yes. Yesterday Reason had an appalling Ira Stoll article on how we don’t need independent prosecutors because it is up to the voters to hold Presidents accountable. When you say it is up to the voters to hold politicians accountable you are just saying politicians can do anything they want so long as they win the election.

        On some issues saying that is the right answer. But on things like the rule of law, “do what you like just so long as you win the election” is about as wrong of an answer as you can give.

        1. “Maybe the President did commit massive voter fraud. Maybe he didn’t, but it’s up to the voters to decide”.

        2. The problem with abdicating problems to special prosecutors (or, more generally, hoping the system polices itself) is that voters become contemptibly nonchalant about criminal misconduct. It’s not their job to do something about it.

          1. I agree. There are downsides to it. But without the threat of a special prosecutor, the President just puts his hacks into DOJ and federal law enforcement who then ensure that none of his corruption is ever properly investigated much less prosecuted. And without it being investigated,the public never has the facts necessary to hold the President accountable. We end up with what we have now with Hillary Clinton with the argument being about if the FBI is honest instead of a debate about what she did and what that means.

        3. I’m sorry, but him saying that was absurd. Constitutional and legal behavior are rather de rigueur for limited government.

          Honestly, this feels a lot like the ’30s.

          1. You’re old.

        4. Well, I’d say it’s more up to the house to hold President’s accountable, since they can impeach. All voters do is decide if another 4 years is good or not. Which doesn’t do much to hold anyone accountable.

          I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but I think special prosecutors are probably also a good idea. And investigating presidents is hardly their only task.

          1. They are not without their drawbacks. But without at least the threat of them, there is no way to keep a President from corrupting the DOJ and FBI like we have seen with Hillary.

    2. respectful of individual rights requires a populace that believes in those rights and demands they be respected.

      AKA rule of law.

      Progressives are actively hostile towards individual rights–their whole philosophy is about using the coercive power of government to force sacrifice for the common good, and that pretty much always translates into forcing individuals to sacrifice their right to make choices for themselves to the group.

      In regards to people believing in those individual rights (that I tie to the rule of law), we’ve got a population now that is so dismissive of the rule of law itself that they’re about to elect a President that everyone knows is a crook.

      Worst libertarian moment ever!

      It’s getting to the point where the solutions are dwindling to unifying behind the Republican Party until we get rid of Clinton, armed resistance, or interstellar space travel. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but people who believe in an individual’s right to make choices for themselves have very few practical options anymore.

      If you can’t persuade the electorate to vote against someone they all know is a crook who completely disregards the rule of law, then what hope is there?

      Persuasion?

    3. In fact, we have a populace that is mostly interested in its free pony

      That’s why i’m voting for Vermin Supreme: he will ensure that every American has that free pony, and can therefore start paying attention to actual issues!

      1. Everyone is interested in a free pony, even the person who wrote that. What people fail to understand is what constitutes a free pony for you is not necessarily the same as what does for me or someone else.

        I think “free pony” is a misnomer. It implies that everyone wants a handout. No, not everyone wants a handout. What everyone wants is a government that best suits what they feel is their self interests. For some people that is a handout. If you poor or sick or don’t have a very good family support structure and really worry every day if you are going to have a roof over year head, a government that gives you lots of opportunity and not much or any security is not going to appeal to you. If in contrast, you are smart and healthy and ambitious and have a good social support structure, a government that gives you opportunity and freedom but not much security is what you are going to want.

        1. No, I think “free pony” does mean a handout. It works better that way. Then you don’t have to twist yourself in knots redefining it and then explaining why the definition you came up with makes it a misnomer.

          1. Free Pony does mean handout. The misnomer is applying it to what everyone wants from government. Not everyone wants a handout. What they want is a government that best suits their rational interests and that is not the same thing as wanting a handout, though it can mean wanting a handout.

            The problem with the term is that it implies that everyone who objects to a small government is doing so out of base or illegitimate reasons. And that is not true.

      2. Does the first person want a handout? Yes, but their reasons for wanting it are not just because they are lazy or corrupt. They want it because their circumstances rationally cause them to value security more than opportunity. This is why single mothers vote for big government.

        I am not defending big government here. I am just saying that you should not dismiss people who want big government as bums looking for a handout. Moreover, if we want people to support small government, we need to figure out ways to get civil society to work better and make people feel more secure and rely on each other and themselves thus be less likely to look to government. In a very real sense, the existence of a large number of something like single mothers is a real threat and determent to our freedom because that means there are more people who will look to government because it is they see it as the only way they can get the security they need and will vote accordingly.

  17. I will give you my two who knows what they mean anecdotes of the day. First, I live in a very Democratic county. The wait to vote in 08 was over 2 hours. The wait in 10 and 14 was about 30 minutes. In 12, the wait was a bit more than an hour. Today it was about 40 minutes. Some of the lesser wait is due to more people voting early. How much and what that says about Democratic turnout if anything remains to be seen.

    Second, my wife’s sister is a grade school teacher up in New Hampshire. She is one of those fuzzy moderate suburban white women who seem to determine the outcome of every election these days. She voted for Obama in 08 and 12 but does often vote for liberal Republicans; she is the kind of voter who thinks Susan Collins is great. She is or claims to be the illusive “socially liberal but fiscally conservative voter”.

    She was deeply troubled by Trump and especially the pussy grabbing video. She is also not a Hillary fan but if you had asked her last weekend who she was going to vote for she would have reluctantly said Hillary. This morning she decided she just couldn’t bring herself to vote for Hillary and voted for Trump, though I doubt she would admit it to anyone outside of her immediate family.

    She is the first example of an actual Bradly effect voter I have ever seen. I have no idea if this is indicative of anything other than her changing her mind. It is interesting, however, to see an actual Bradly effect voter, because I never had until this morning.

    1. I’ve seen interactive electoral maps that are remarkably sensitive to turn out for non-college educated white males. Most models seem to predict a 55% turn out for them. Crank it up to 65% or so, and Trump wins.

      But that’s a big number. That’s tens of millions of Americans ding something highly unusual on a workday.

      1. I think this election will be decided by the answer to one question; were the 08 and 12 electorates a product of what turnout in Presidential years is now or were they the product of Obama driving turnout in some groups and suppressing it in others and thus creating his own electorate the composition of which cannot be repeated by other Democratic nominees. If it is the former, Hillary wins but wins close. If it is the latter, Trump wins and wins by more than people think.

    2. John, how did your sister-in-law vote in the Ayotte / Hassan contest?

      Those two are two evils that couldn’t possibly be lesser.

      1. She voted Ayotte. She exactly the kind of liberal but not crazy SJW voter that Ayotte appeals to.

    3. I think my wife will vote Trump (because SCOTUS) if the kids aren’t at the booth with her. Otherwise, she might vote Johnson as a civics lesson.

    4. I too was thinking that the Bradley effect could become the Hillary effect. My wife voted for Bernie in the primary and was less than enthusiastic to vote for Hillary, which she did today and also noticed that there was no wait in one of the bluest precincts in Virginia.

    5. “I have no idea if this is indicative of anything other than her changing her mind. It is interesting, however, to see an actual Bradly effect voter, because I never had until this morning.”

      Since it’s CA, it won’t mean spit, but as I posted last week, two (D, dammit D!!!) women acquaintances said after the most recent wikileaks that they simply couldn’t vote for Clinton; both said they were voting for Johnson.

      1. Those two votes won’t mean anything but their existence tells you there are likely a good number of such voters who are in places that will.

        I have no doubt a lot of reluctant Democrats will vote for Hillary out of party loyalty. But I have a hard time believing a lot of them won’t as well.

  18. My hope (a.k.a., “I can dream, can’t I”) is that this year’s abortion of a presidential election will at least result in the following:

    1. The end, once and for all, of “primary debates” one and one-half years before the election with 20+ participants, “main events” and “undercards,” that more closely resemble Real Housewives reunion specials than discussions of policy and governance.

    2. Consideration of the return to the days in which primaries were merely advisory and not binding — another populist “reform” that failed.

    3. After Trump, Carson, Caine, Jesse Ventura among others, can we finally put away this idea that a “non-politician” can walk in from nowhere and fix our government?

    4. Most of all, a realization that government has grown too big and it is time to address our problems ourselves rather than expecting a Trump or a Hillary to fix them for us.

    1. Expectations are a muthafucka, friend.

    2. No way. People are voting Hillary BECAUSE they believe government is and should be bigger than the candidate. They don’t expect Hillary to do anything, they expect THE PARTY to do something.

    3. You saying by #3 that only professional politicians can fix our (or somebody’s) gov’t?

  19. Haven’t you been watching The Walking Dead? Without democracy we would would all be paying half our incomes to some power mad ruler like Negan. Oh wait…

    1. “You pricks STILL don’t get it!”

  20. “No representation without taxation!”

  21. I propose the following: Make all elected offices-president, VP, senate, congress, and all state and local by lottery. Put all adult citizens’ names into hats and they are chosen for a single term (4 years, 2 years, whatever). Two rules: (1) the constitution must be followed (2) spending may not exceed tax revenue. There could be national or state sales and property taxes but no income taxes.

    Not saying this would be perfect, but I don’t think it would be worse than what we have now.

    1. If we could enforce “follow the constitution” we wouldn’t need the other stuff.

      I kinda prefer income tax to property tax. When I lose my income, I shouldn’t lose my house for nonpayment of taxes.

      1. I prefer a Single Land Tax.

        But it would be so low that it shouldnt be a problem.

  22. “allocate voting rights according to knowledge”

    I’m unaware of the counterproductive results of Welfare money going to sick, needy, and elderly people so I’d be out on my ass.

    Jason, have you considered adding a “dictatorship of the proletariat” to your alt-democracy book? You know, a system of government where people attach less significance to voting and more significance to joining a labor union or engaging in mass collective action that would do things like nationalizing companies that pollute their environment, poison their workers, or ship their jobs overseas? Or is your book a derivation of “Atlas Shrugged” for the 21st century?

    1. Fuck off, asswipe.

  23. I wonder if the winnings on my small wager on Trump will be greater than the losses in my Index fund will be on 11/9 if Trump wins.

  24. “Even in democracy, our relationship to the government is not consensual.”
    Choosing an outcome (in most cases, a representative in government) by majority vote is what establishes consent. Any other means is letting the minority decide, and then consent goes away and we have tyranny. Consent, however, does not mean that government thus does everything even the majority wants (and it certainly doesn’t mean it does everything you personally want). With a representative system we entrust judgment in the people we elect, which means on occasion they might go against the express apparent will of the majority.

    The problem of alternative forms is consent. We could let only the intelligent vote, but then what justifies their impositions on the dumb except brute tyrannical force?

    Polycentric legal concepts and other flights of libertarian fancy are all solutions to a problem that libertarians invented but that nobody else really cares about. Yeah most of the time government is a publicly funded monopoly. So what? It works. You’re not going to invent any system that increases your own personal role in what happens society-wide that isn’t a tyranny favoring you somehow.

    1. “Choosing an outcome (in most cases, a representative in government) by majority vote is what establishes consent.”
      Fuck off, asswipe.

      1. You consented to the rules of your society and furthermore you consented to the outcome of elections by choosing to remain living in the jurisdiction of that society’s government. Don’t like it, declare independence.

        1. Fuck off, asswipe.
          That’s what you’re worth and that’s what you’re getting.

          1. I’m sure I didn’t ask for you to chime in at all.

            1. You are such an asswipe.

              1. His stupidity and dishonesty really is breathtaking.

                1. Tony is not an asswipe. Asswipes are useful. You wipe your ass with them.

                  Tony is of no use whatsoever.

    2. Tony, the free market is composed entirely of voluntary consentual arrangements. Provided that property rights are properly established, any costs imposed on others can be directed back on the originators. That is a completely consentual system that is not “democratic”.

      The only “brute tyrannical force” being imposed upon people is the same force that prevents people from murdering each other. You can’t steal just as you can’t kill, and you can’t use the government to steal, and you can’t interfere with other people’s voluntary mutually consentual activities.

      Conventional “democracy” is LESS consentual than a free market libertarian society. The only things you think are tyrannical about it is your inability to force everyone else to go along with you society-wide social engineering schemes.

      1. You’re arguing with someone who’s impervious to logic, willfully ignorant of the facts, and doesn’t give a damn whether you disagree with him.

      2. Thank you Hazel, though this is Tony you are talking to. He’s so thick headed that even his fellow commenters at Salon find him odious.

    3. It works.

      The justification used by every tyranny since man began writing down history.

      1. Also wanting to make and do good for the world justifies tyranny.

        1. They don’t do good. Never have, and likely never will. They enrich themselves without ever personally delivering on any of their own promises. They force others to deliver and reap the reward.

      2. Whereas you prefer a libertarian society imposed on everyone because it doesn’t work and helps no one?

        1. Systems don’t put food on the table, medicine in mouths, or splints on broken bones. Other people do that. And people have a demonstrated preference for doing so without coercion. Contrary to your constant paeans to the evilness of mankind, I am a humanist.

    4. Other people cannot consent for me.

      1. Apparently, you consent by daring to draw breath. Remember, there is a world of difference between soi-disant liberals and conservatives. You can tell this distinction because they use the exact same arguments to justify their positions.

      2. They’re not. Again, if you think our system of government is rotten to the core, have a revolution. Knock yourself out. Otherwise you consent to it. “Consent” doesn’t necessarily mean “like.”

        I know, you’re a special snowflake, but we don’t all get our own planet.

        1. Well, I guess we can call off the college campus “rape” epidemic then, yeah?

          1. I laughed heartily at that one.

    5. Shorter Tony: Just lie back and relax, it will be easier for everyone that way.

    6. Tony:

      Choosing an outcome (in most cases, a representative in government) by majority vote is what establishes consent. Any other means is letting the minority decide, and then consent goes away and we have tyranny.

      Citation needed.

      This is just pure question begging.

      Minorities and individuals decide lots of things is it all, by definition, tyranny? Apparently, by assumption.

      Of course, you would probably reply saying, “Yes, you’re allowed to make some decisions, by the will of the majority: through democracy!”

      But that just collapses back into the question begging: assume democracy is the only alternative to tyranny. Then, democracy is the only alternative to tyranny.

      You’re not addressing any of the issues in the article at all. You’re just trying to simplistically assume them away.

    7. The whole “consent of the governed” thing is utter bullshit and always is outside of a group that is small enough to actually decide things by consensus.

      Government may be inevitable, and it may be necessary or desirable in some sense. But it is never legitimate in the sense that it rules by consent of the governed. It is always one group of people using force against another group.

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    ===> http://www.works76.com

  26. the free market is composed entirely of voluntary consentual arrangements.
    False. I never voluntarily go to the doctor or the mechanic and give them money. I do it because I have no other choice. Your ideal conception of the free market is totally voluntary, but any real one with human beings in it is largely constrained by the realities of being human, not to mention resource limitations.

    rovided that property rights are properly established

    So with this and the preventing murder and stuff, you’re already introducing the most brute-force applications of government–as necessary for your system to function. So what form of government do you propose to prevent people from trespassing and murdering? We’re back to square one. Not only is your system no less “brutal,” it expressly does only those things that involve physical violence. Having someone ejected from your lawn is surely no less forceful than merely taxing someone to pay for a school.

    Since you think only the former activity is OK, you’re not saying that government force is bad, you’re saying that government force should only be employed for the sake of the social good of preventing trespass, but not of supplying education. Cops get paychecks.

    This deeming of your preferred government services as legitimate, while anyone else’s setup isn’t, is arbitrary and dishonest.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the fact that markets are inherently unequal, , which should be too obvious to need pointing out.

    1. Yea that is a voluntary consensual agreement. Doctors and mechanics aren’t threatening to arrest you or confiscate property if you don’t obey them.

      And people don’t have to drive…or go to the doctor. A lot of folks don’t have cars. But it appears you are contributing to global warming.

      1. If my choice is pay a lot of money or die, that is not a voluntary situation. It’s one primary reason the rest of the civilized world and half the uncivilized world figured out that healthcare needs to be collectively paid for. It simply cannot act as a free market.

        1. You are going to die no matter what.

          What if no one wants to be doctors or nurses then what?

          How are long wait times and rationing in single payer systems preventing you from dieing? That isn’t access to healthcare. Having a way to pay for it doesn’t mean care or that it is good.

          Also, why are you being so cheap? if you want quality products you should pay for them.

          1. Why do you think you are entitled to debate healthcare policy when you obviously have an extremely unsophisticated understanding of the subject?

            1. Says the guy that thinks it is ok to force people to provide him healthcare.

              Please note singlepayer does not mean you actually have access to care or that it is good. Just thought i would repeat.

              1. Not necessarily, just on this planet. We pay double per capita for care that is not superior to that available in other countries. It is true that, as with universities, America has the best quality care in the world to people who can afford it or otherwise get access. But a lack of universal access is not just a problem ethically, but economically, as a basic understanding of risk pools will attest.

                1. Did you know the US government portion per capita is in the top 3 or top 4 of every nation on earth compared to countries with full blown singlepayer. That is ALONE without a full blown single payer.

                  Do you understand how rationing and wait times work. If singlepayer would mean paying less for care, then why didnt Vermont go thru with it?

                  1. Tony is stupid and dishonest as well as uninformed and willfully ignorant. He is a fountain of endless derp.

              2. A doctor’s labor union (the AMA) that forces me to get a very expensive permission slip to buy a few dollars worth of medicine is hardly a free market.

    2. Are you suggesting a select group of top men should make markets “equal”?

      1. I think the market mechanism is a useful tool for many things, but just as this article argues that democracy shouldn’t be an unquestioned object of worship, neither should the market. Markets alone fail to provide all of the aspects of a modern civilization that people demand. And people should have the right to make such demands.

        1. So you mean you would force people into slavery to give people stuff they want? That is essentially what you are justifying.

          Southerners pre 1865 needed to make money to afford things and eat. How did they go about doing it?

          1. So you mean you would force people into slavery to give people stuff they want? That is essentially what you are justifying.

            This is what Tony really believes, because he is stupid enough to think he will always be the beneficiary and never the slave in such a system.

          2. You got it backwards. Doctors are the slavers.

    3. I do it because I have no other choice.

      That is false. Most illnesses are not life and death and not every problem with your car has to be fixed right then and you can do without a car if you have to. It is just hard.

      You only assume you must do these things because you are reasonably well off and secure and can afford to dismiss the option of going without. As a result, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

      1. Tony strikes me as a greedy and selfish prick…all about taking care of himself. He must force others because he is entitled to their labor.

        Tony also do you know some people do their own car work….like oil changes, swapping out batteries.

        And you are ruining the environment

        1. Fine, forget the mechanic example, geez.

          The point is the market is not a system of total freedom. You’re freer if you’re richer. You’re freer if you’re healthier. You’re freer if you’re not cheated–I suppose you think it’s OK to have government police that.

          There is no either/or here except in your minds because you’re dogmatists who demand simple answers to complex questions. Nobody’s talking about making everyone totally equal (or totally free). But every society on earth has figured out the necessity of tempering the imperfections and inequities in markets with government. And even then they tend toward advantaging the already wealthy, since the already wealthy can co-opt government if it’s not strong enough to resist.

          Libertarianism exists, of course, for the sole purpose of clearing all barriers between the wealthy and takeover of government.

          1. This makes no sense. Who are these “wealthy” that are the reasons for such expensive care?

            1. The medical care cartel.

          2. What is your proposal? What would your “universal” plan cover? Would you ration? What about the wait times?

            1. Rationing and waiting times are bullshit rightwing talking points meant to scare people out of supporting a system that is actually more efficient (that’s the point of it). They neglect to say that we already do a shit ton of rationing; i.e., if you don’t have health insurance, your healthcare is rationed to approximately no healthcare.

              1. How is it more efficient and how did you determine that? Not familiar with canada eh?

                You can get healthcare without insurance now so not sure what you are talking about. If you go to the ER in an emergency, they don’t wait to see if you have insurance.

                Also you can pay out of pocket?

                If it is more efficient with savings…why did Vermont balk?

              2. Rationing and waiting times are bullshit rightwing talking points

                No, they aren’t. Jesus, you sound like a young-earth creationist when you spout shit like this. You know how you like to tell people who aren’t scientists to go away when climate change comes up because they don’t know the first thing about TEH SCIENCE? You’re the guy whose ignorance is gumming up the works in any thread about political economy. You don’t even know the basics but your presume to know how engineer the best system for hundreds of millions in a dynamic world.

                1. So America does has the most efficient healthcare system on earth?

                  1. If you have heart disease, require hemodialysis, or have the most prevalent cancers, absolutely. Also if you require medication such as a statin for chronic conditions.

                    But you’re just one of gruber’s stupid voters, so you wouldn’t understand that.

            2. Letting pharmacists prescribe would solve most of the problem.

          3. . . . You’re freer if you’re richer. You’re freer if you’re healthier. . .

            Wealth and health have no affect on one’s degree of freedom, only on what one can do with their freedom.

      2. Plenty of Christian Scientists avoid the doctor altogether.

        So it is clearly a choice, even in life or death siutations.

    4. the free market is composed entirely of voluntary consentual arrangements.
      False. I never voluntarily go to the doctor or the mechanic and give them money. I do it because I have no other choice.

      I don’t think you understand the difference between “voluntary”, “consentual”, and “choice”.

      Just because I have choices limited by reality, doesn’t mean I can’t voluntarily choose or consent to things.

      Trying to hand-wave away freedom and choices as if they just don’t exist because reality imposes constraints is lazy argumentation. I can’t fly to the moon, either: does that mean I’ll never be free?

      Anyway, to the extend that my choices and freedoms are limited by the society around me, and their choices and freedoms, is the extent to which my reality is a social one, dependent on others, constrained by others, but also affording opportunities for coordination and cooperation, voluntarily.

      Usually socialists talk about that like it’s a good thing, not “the end of all freedom ever.”

  27. I didn’t think America was supposed to be a democracy. Althouh I agree history classes shouldn’t be entirely about greece and Rome, they shouldn’t be entirely not about them either. Paying attention to how government nments similar to ours failed in the past is like real world lab data (the closest you can get in the soft sciences, at least) about government. A more cynical person might say its as if the proverbial “they” want us to be uninformed.

  28. Healthcare is a business tony. Just thought i would point that out

    1. About 30 million more Americans to go before it becomes a public service.

      1. What do you mean public service?

        1. You know how you got at least 13 years of education at a cost of almost nothing out of your parents’ pockets?

          1. How did it cost nothing? They paid property taxes and other taxes. And i didn’t go to public school.

            Are you seriously arguing public education and singlepayer is “free”?

            1. No, it’s not free, but the costs are spread to everyone so that nobody is overburdened with them, and we get universal education, which in turn boosts wealth creation down the line. Win-win, all thanks to the miracle of taxes.

              1. the miracle of taxes

                But your faith in government is totally not religious, no sirree.

              2. I thought liberals were complaining about the quality of education?

                Aren’t the best, brightest and wealthiest typically enrolled in private schools

                1. Also, if the schools in the inner cities and Appalachia were privately run but otherwise unchanged in quality or effectiveness, it would be considered a national travesty.

                  But since they’re government-owned and union-run, nothing to see here, move along now, stop asking questions.

              3. So why did you claim it was “almost nothing”. Paying a few grand of property taxes per year, state tax, local tax, excise taxes, sales tax is not “almost nothing”

              4. nobody is overburdened with them

                Somebody has never been to New Jersey.

      2. With the ACA imploding and threatening to take a generation of Democrats with it, you’d better buckle up for freefall.

        1. Guess Republicans ought to hurry up and come up with an alternative. It obviously can’t be a universal subsidized system, so they’re gonna have to invent something totally new. Good thing Republicans are such geniuses.

          1. Tony would you support medicaid for all?

            1. That’s a contradiction since medicaid is a means-tested program, so it would be more accurate to say I support medicare for all (which isn’t means tested).

              1. How is that a contradiction? You wanted to have healthcare (coverage) as it really isn’t care for poor people. That is medicaid.

                1. I want a universal single-payer system, not a means-tested program.

                  1. What would be covered in this single payer system? You do realize this requires rationing right?

                    1. Everyone, that’s what universal means. And define rationing so that I know you are not just vomiting out rightwing buzzwords. Every system with limited resources is rationed. An unsubsidized “free market” healthcare system would be the most “rationed” of all–you can’t pay, your care is rationed to zero. Most people would take bureaucrats making some tough decisions over having no access to healthcare at all.

                    2. So it wouldn’t be universal then. Because the government is paying for healthcare does not mean you have access to it.

                    3. I wouldn’t take that.

                    4. Why did the Vermont governor a liberal who ran on Green Mountain care decide not to pursue it?

                  2. I want a universal single-payer system

                    I too wish for unicorns to come and deliver us from reality. There is no such thing as “universal” care. It does not exist. The single payer has scarce funds and must ration access to care.

                    1. He admits it doesn’t exist but insists that it does. Apparently he doesn’t bother to check canada wait times. 2 years for a hip replacement? come on man!

                    2. It exists because they say it exists. They are not beholden to outcomes, only intentions.

                    3. Have none of you even read about other countries that exist in the world?

                    4. Yes, unlike you, I’ve read more than just the headlines and bullet items in politicians’ PowerPoints. Intentions are not outcomes, promises are not deliveries, and universal care doesn’t exist even though lots of people pretend it does.

                    5. Considering I live in one of those countries, and have experienced its services: Rationing exists, scarce funds exist, long wait times exist. Public healthcare is not universal. Costs are increasing due to an aging population, tightening resources further. Multiple provinces right now are discussing allowing private services to open because they’re aware of the problems. MRIs and X-rays can be difficult to get, and access to machines can be backlogged for years. Canadian politicians more often than not go to the United States and pay rather than use the public service. The med schools pour out doctors and nurses who would rather work in the United States. People die on waiting lists for operations. I have personally known some of those people. Others with less immediate problems can spend years waiting or being shuffled around between experts who lack the resources to treat them.

                      So please, continue lecturing on ‘other countries’ that exist in the world, because you are clearly informed.

                    6. I live in Taiwan. Medical care works very well here with nationalized health care. Of course, the doctors here actually do some work. Wait time to see a doctor without an appointment is usually less than half an hour. I had a broken knuckle that required surgery. The wait time was one and a half hours. Total cost to me was a hundred bucks US.

                    7. Actually that’s not accurate. I needed surgery three times. The cost for the replacement artificial knuckle was a hundred bucks. The first two times, for debridement, were just the standard eight-dollar co-pay.

  29. So libertarians are the selfish ones…but tony wanting libertarians to work so he can get free healthcare (too cheap to pay for it) isn’t selfish?

    1. No problem paying for what I get. In the USSA, you pay a lot for permission to buy what you need.

  30. Tony may i ask why you are so cheap? Typically if you want nice things you have to pay for them.

    1. But you think government should spare no expense to protect the luxuries of the rich, and that it should spend no money to address the basic needs of the poor.

      Is this because libertarianism is greedy psychopathy in the form of a pamphlet? I report, you decide.

      1. There is medicaid. How is not having single payer equate to protecting the rich?

          1. Huh?

  31. Tony would you put price controls on hospitals? And wage controls on doctors and nurses?

    1. I’m not a health policy expert. This country has the extra burden of an existing complex system that can’t simply be pulled up from the roots.

      1. So you are the one that wants a simple solution to a complex problem

      2. If it’s so complex, unworkable, and can’t be fixed, why not try a free market system Tony ? Or at least let a free market system exist side by side the ACA, and see which system of doing things works better ?

        1. Because he is a cheap ass that thinks he is entitled to other people working

        2. I just said it can’t be pulled up from the roots. We can neither tell the entire insurance industry to fuck off nor can we rip away the benefits of old people.

          A free market system in healthcare is simply nonsensical. I know you desperately want every social problem in the world to be addressable by a free market, but it just doesn’t work that way, as most of you will grudgingly acknowledge when you say you think government goons should shoot people for trespassing.

          Healthcare expenses are often unpredictable and large and concern health, life, and death. There simply is very little room for market choice. If you’re having a heart attack, you don’t browse a catalogue of ambulances and ERs before you get moving.

          1. Ok and if you have a heart attack they aren’t checking to see if you have insurance before they perform work on you.

            1. Exactly. So someone pays the cost anyway. Nobody thinks it a just or moral society in which one’s pockets are checked for insurance cards before they are given life-saving treatment.

              So instead of passing those costs around willy-nilly, why not just implement a system in which costs are socialized? It just makes the most logical and fiscal sense.

              1. No it doesn’t. If it did then Vermont would have green mountain care. But they don’t. Why?

                1. It failed in Vermont mostly for political reasons but also because trying to graft a state single-payer system into an already existing national system creates a bunch of complexities that defeat the purpose of going to a simpler single-payer system in the first place.

                  Your question should be, why does it work in every other civilized country on earth?

              2. So,,, I could pay my doctor 20$, pay the government 30$ so the government can pay my doctor 20$ after the government takes 10$ for it’s operating costs.

                FISCAL SENSE !!!!

                Your a genius Tony !!!

                =D

                1. Monopsony power, bro. The government can outright refuse to pay costs it deems excessive, passing off the system’s excess costs to those greedy heathcare providers with absolutely no negative consequences whatsoever.

            2. Tornado. With guys like Tony the excuse is always that “it can’t be done”. His post above did not disappoint. =D
              How this fucker stays employed even in a government job is beyond my understanding. =D

          2. So how about a catastrophic single payer plan? That are the costs you mentioned and seem to be your issue. Medicare for all is significantly more than that.

          3. What the hell does a free market have to do with trespassing? So health care pre free shit was what? People became doctors and innovated medicine in order to make money, and the human race has benefitted immensely. We would have cured cancer by now if not for you parasites.

    2. Yes, unless they stop the medical care cartel. Free market or public utility. Simple choice.

  32. If it is more efficient with savings…why did Vermont balk?

  33. We would make “Go to hell!” an informal greeting.

    Ripping off Andy Breckman, eh? Thought he wouldn’t have his fans here?

  34. Tony would you support paying a 20% payroll tax so we could have medicare for all? I am trying to determine how into this you are since you feel it is a “right”

    Would you be willing to contribute 30% to help the poor?

    I don’t have health insurance…can you help me?

  35. Tony do you have a desire to control others?

  36. There are some decisions that don’t make sense as individual ones, only as collective ones. Example: which side of the road to drive on. For those, there are few reasonable substitutes for democracy.

    One of them would be custom. Wait long enough for the individual decisions to shake themselves out and a single answer is converged on. Takes a while, though.

    Another would be something like a guild or civil service system, in which persons would assume formal ranks according to the expertise they recognized in each other by some systematic means, and then the top expert decided matters. Also takes a while, plus is very subject to corruption.

    Another would be monarchy. FYTW. Fight it out to decide who’s monarch.

    Any others?

  37. Tony do you post on SALON under tony?

  38. Also would like to point out i voted for Jill Stein today tony in a swing state just for you tony. I am a hardcore liberal.

  39. The US government without single payer per capita spending is up there with nations that have single payer. Going to singlepayer would not be cheap or bring spending in line with those countries.

    Vermont proved this. I suspect colorado will as well.

    1. The AMA writes the legislation. It only “works” when the doctors can extract dollarus maximus.

  40. This is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. There are problems with it, but none of them has anything at all to do with this rant.

  41. Politicians, and the Media love to refer to the USA as a democracy because
    they hate the US Constitution..

    Republic, Republic, REPUBLIC! – Freedom Outpost

    Much more than just a Democracy.. We The People in our U.S. Constitution; the most basic fact of civics, that these united States of America are a republic, a form of government guaranteed by We The People to each of the States in Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.
    I’m talking about most of our presidents, members of Congress, university professors, journalists and others who should know better. Like most adults trained in government schools, they believe that Abe Lincoln was our greatest president, a preposterous ‘fact’ of propaganda on which Washington D.C. has relied for 150 years. In this previous blog article, we offered six books and one website that put that destructive lie to rest once and for all.

    http://freedomoutpost.com/repu…..-republic/

  42. Democracy vs Constitutional Republic – What is America’s Real Form of Government

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj0zBMq1EaE

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  47. There are only 2 ways for the democracy to work as intended. You either educate people successfully or allow only the eligible people to vote… These people will need a voter certification.

    There is an article about that:
    http://thinkandsay.net/democra…..tion-test/

  48. Rawls’ reason for democracy is actually a problem with democracy. People are NOT equal, and it does us no good to pretend that they are. Just a little thinking and you’ll realize this. Is a conman equally reliable and trustworthy to someone who is honest and charitable? No. Is the average person equally competent in understanding how climate change works or how to deal with it? No. People are also unequal in how willing they are to defer to others when it is clear they are more competent concerning this matter or another versus how adamant people are that they are “just as good” despite the evidence. Unfortunately our culture encourages the latter attitude over the former.

    I’m not saying that democracy can’t work. The problem with oligarchy is if you get the wrong people asserting themselves as “the best” the problems are far worse than when this happens in a democracy, since in a democracy the wrong people can be voted out of office. But this modern day cultural sensibility that it’s somehow wrong to regard some people as better than other people is misplaced and is bad for democracy. If we start recognizing that not everyone is equal, and more importantly that there are people who are better than ourselves then we will learn when it’s best to defer to expert opinion. Instead of insisting on voting for people who share our uninformed opinions on things like climate change we’ll vote for politicians who promise to listen to what the scientists have to say about it.

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