FREEDOM!!!! [4]

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:02 pm

Bluebottle wrote:Well, in Norway the Monarch actually sits as head of the executive branch of the Government in council. But his political power is non-existent. We have a young, highly symbolic royal house though. And, like, I'm the first to say it's a ridiculous antiquated system, but politicians make bad Heads of State in my opinion. Shrugging

So there isn't actually any power vested in the monarchy?  You'll have to forgive my ignorance of the Norwegian constitution but I'm still unclear what power you're wary of giving to politicians here.  And head of state is a pretty meaningless position that mostly comes down to attending state dinners.  Even politicians can do that.

You Americans at least partly solve it by limiting the Presidents power without support of your parliament, but it still puts far to much power in the hands of one person for my taste. And it is not really helpful in solving the important tasks of democracy. Representing the will of the people.

I've talked before about how the American presidency is actually vastly less powerful than prime ministers in the Westminster system.  Hopefully you can fill me in on any important differences between Westminster and Norway's system.  I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean when you said the presidential system isn't good for representing the will of the people.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Bluebottle on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:33 pm

It's mostly covered in my subsequent post. To my mind democracy should work to fulfill it's ideal, to represent the will of the people. To my mind a strong parliament in Montesquieus three branch political system is what best fulfills that ideal. It puts power in as many represented opinions as practically possible. A weak executive branch that must always lean on the power of parliament at least works towards putting power closer to the people. In reality, talking realpolitik, that might not be the case, but in my opinion you achieve the best result when working towards the ideal. As Kant says, purity of intention confers morality on our deeds. And going at that ideal from odd angles because of realities always has the potential to work against achieving the ideal. But this is all opinion, I admit. Born partly out of the fact that I think the real danger of democracies lies in putting power in as few hands as possible and having as their goal one strong leader. Just look at Russia under Putin.

Under the Norwegian constitution the monarch is the de-facto head of the executive branch of the government and sits in official council with the Prime Minister and other Ministers, but his power is today simply symbolic. Anything else would be a scandal and probably lead to the end of the Monarchy. Our constitution also rest on the principle of negative parlamentarism, where the sitting government can be ousted by a majority of the parliament. As such it's a constitution that rests most of the power with the parliament, which is the branch of government most directly representing the full will of the people.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:52 pm

Apologies, I didn't see that other post you made.  Looks like the streams got crossed. Razz

It's interesting that you bring up Montesquieu.  Monty was a big fan of the English system back when they had a monarch with actual political power.  His separate executive is a king who can push back against parliament.  This is very different from the modern idea of constitutional monarchy where, as you say, the king is completely castrated (in theory...).  Note also that Montesquieu's ideal system here isn't really a democracy as we would understand the term.

Modern constitutional monarchies, as they exist in Western Europe (Liechenstein not withstanding), do not have a separate executive in Montesquieu's sense.  The king acts as a mouthpiece for his cabinet, which is appointed by the prime minster, who is the leader of the largest party in parliament.  It's the opposite of separation of powers.  Unifying the executive and legislative authority (combined with the strength of whip system, at least in the UK) makes the PM vastly more powerful than the American President.

A lot of Europeans express bafflement at how inefficient the American system of passing laws can be without realizing that that's the point (to be fair, a lot of Americans don't get this either).  It is only by having an executive who exists separate from the legislature that you can preserve separation of powers -- or having power in more hands, if you will..  And since both the legislature and the executive are chosen by elections, the Presidential system is able to have its cake (checks and balances between different voices) while eating it too (not making one of those voices a single family).

Edit: and since "the people" never have a single will, checks and balances are important to prevent the majority from running roughshod over the rights of minorities.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:00 pm

But the US system often seems hampered to the point of ineffectiveness.
Take the gun issue- any other country which had the sort of instances America has had in recent years would have reacted log ago- legislation would have been passed.

Your President came out the other day and basically said he didn't have the power to do anything about it. And that's your leader? Whats he leading when he cant even act on such an important issue?

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:14 pm

Again, that's the point.  Do you trust your politicians enough that you're happy with the PM being able to pass most any agenda he wants because he by definition controls the largest party?  And where any one in his party who defies him too much (or wants to change party) can be forced out of parliament altogether?  There's clearly a level of cultural disconnect at play though.  The shock (italics and everything!) that people wouldn't want to make things too easy for their leader.  I know a lot of European people don't really trust their politicians either.  But then it's all shock and horror when America has a system that incorporates that lack of trust towards people who seek power by building in structural limitations on how they can use it.

There is plenty Obama can do.  He has power over enforcement and policy under the law (at the federal level).  He has a massive soap box from which to launch debates and advocate for policy positions.  But he can't shepherd a bill through the legislature, nor should he be able to.  (I mean, there are workarounds that give the President more power over legislation, but they're of dubious constitutionality and there's usually pushback to them.)  Legislators falling into line behind a leader is part of the reason we ended up with the Patriot Act, to pick just one example.

NB the gun issue is also unusual due to the Second Amendment and because there's a very strong pro-gun lobby.  Most issues are not so intractable.  (And before you start badmouthing the idea of a written constitution again, I feel compelled to point out that that's a separate feature from the Presidential system and neither is dependent on the other to exist.)
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:26 pm

I feel compelled to point out that that's a separate feature from the Presidential system and neither is dependent on the other to exist.- Eldo

No but the two combined in action here cancel each other out- meaning nothing can be done, nothing is done, and more people keep getting randomly shot.
Surely there has to be a line between checks and balances and efficiency- the ability to effect law?
It strikes me that on the gun issue your government is unable to effect law. And if a government cant effect law what's it for?

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:48 am

You could just as easily blame the weakness of the whipping system, or the Supreme Court for altering the mainstream legal interpretation of the Second Amendment in 2008, or it being a massively divisive issue that, even if we did use a parliamentary system, would probably spark a backbenchers' revolt. Perhaps the biggest issue is that polarization in Congress is at historically high levels.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by halfwise on Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:44 am

Congress could effect law on guns if it weren't such a massively polarizing issue in this country. It's not a problem of malfunction (though there's plenty of that to go around) but a basic, deep, and well balanced division of opinion.

It may seem an obvious issue to YOU, but the other side feels it's just as obviously the opposite.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:54 am

Whenever the news reports on American politics the word 'paralysis' does seem to arise an awful lot.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by halfwise on Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:02 pm

It's gotten worse in the last decade or so. If you stay away from hot button issues things can get done. Actually, that's not true. The two parties often attack anything the other party starts just because the other party started it. It's inane. The only time things get done is if two congressmen from separate parties jointly sponsor legislation.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:46 pm

But surely the fault lies then in the system if it allows under those circumstances for complete gridlock- I am all for having checks and balances on government power, but it still has to work as a government too.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by halfwise on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:15 pm

No system in the world will work if what has come to be two evenly matched sides are determined to be in opposition to each other. The voting system should work to throw them out (it often has) but we seem to keep getting more of the same. It's what's going on behind government that's the problem.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:16 pm

... and it does? We don't have "complete gridlock" or anything even close to it.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by halfwise on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:24 pm

On no basis except a hunch, I'd say we're at about 40% gridlock, but that includes some pretty important issues.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:28 pm

.. and it does? We don't have "complete gridlock" or anything even close to it.- Eldo

Does it?
Obamacare- saved only by the courts, your government can do nothing about it, regardless of consequences, had that Court ruling gone the other way millions would have been left with no health coverage at all.
Gun massacres- I know its a polarizing subject in the US but I believe there is a clear majority for changes such not letting people with mental health issues have guns, yet even this simple, obviously sensible measure, is beyond your governments ability to enact.
Every time it comes to the budgets there seems to be gridlock and the prospect of the civil service not getting paid and half the government having to shut down- regardless of the problems this may cause, or the cost in lost production to the country.
And its even worse right now regards US foreign policy.

It might not be complete gridlock but its the big important issues that matter where the gridlock does seem to be.

I honestly cannot think of another western modern democracy which would endure the gun massacres the US has, for this amount of time and frequency, and still not legislated to improve the situation.
And I think the difference is not the people, its the systems.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by David H on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:59 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I believe there is a clear majority for changes such not letting people with mental health issues have guns, yet even this simple, obviously sensible measure, is beyond your governments ability to enact.

You think so? Aside from the problem of accessing people's individual medical records which are protected (remember we don't have a State healthcare system that that has access to all this information), if we were to pass such a law, no gun owner would dare seek medical help for even simple depression. Think about the consequences. pale
For that matter, how would you feel about at law that restricted voting rights for mental health reasons.

No, you'd have a much easier time passing restrictions on the types of weapons and ammunition than on the people who can carry them. If you want a majority that includes gun owners, that's the path you need to look down.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:59 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Obamacare- saved only by the courts, your government can do nothing about it, regardless of consequences, had that Court ruling gone the other way millions would have been left with no health coverage at all.

Congress passed Obamacare.  They can't do anything to stop people from filing lawsuits about it in court.  I have no idea what your point is here.

Gun massacres- I know its a polarizing subject in the US but I believe there is a clear majority for changes such not letting people with mental health issues have guns, yet even this simple, obviously sensible measure, is beyond your governments ability to enact.

We've already been over the various factors that make the gun case unique several times.

Every time it comes to the budgets there seems to be gridlock and the prospect of the civil service not getting paid and half the government having to shut down- regardless of the problems this may cause, or the cost in lost production to the country.

There's always bluster.  The government shutdown in 2013 was a national embarrassment to be sure, but it's also the only one that has occurred since 1996, which is a big improvement over the situation during the 20 years before the big ones under Clinton, although (with the exception of those last two) most of them were only partial shutdowns or were resolved in a day or two.

And its even worse right now regards US foreign policy.

Not sure what exactly you're referring to.  The President has most of the power over setting foreign policy, increasingly over the last century as Congress has ceded much of its power in this sphere, and the Supreme Court has agreed.

I honestly cannot think of another western modern democracy which would endure the gun massacres the US has, for this amount of time and frequency, and still not legislated to improve the situation.
And I think the difference is not the people, its the systems.

No, the people are definitely a big part of the difference, because roughly half of the politically minded population rejects the notion that we need significantly greater gun control.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:21 pm

Congress passed Obamacare. They can't do anything to stop people from filing lawsuits about it in court. I have no idea what your point is here.- Eldo

As I understand it the government had no back up plan had they lost the decision, and the Republicans right up till the decision were still arguing amongst themselves about what their replacement should be.
Had the decision gone the other way millions would have been left without coverage- how is that not a failure of government to those people?

'We've already been over the various factors that make the gun case unique several times.'

But that's my point- the systems are where the issues arise. In this case your lobbying system, your system of funding politicians, your written constitution (and I don't see why you cant just amend the 2nd amendment, the whole constitutions riddled with amendments already anyway).
Just because its unique it doesn't make it any less a failure of a governments ability to act. In this case the leader of your country has publicly stated that he pretty much cant do anything about it.
In the meantime the gun massacres keep happening with frightening regularity.
I also see that as a failure of government. The first duty of a government is to protect its citizens.

'There's always bluster. The government shutdown in 2013 was a national embarrassment to be sure, but it's also the only one that has occurred since 1996'

So, yeah its bad but it used to worse? Well I suppose its going in the right direction at least.

'Not sure what exactly you're referring to.'

Well take Iran and the deal being thrashed out there- a deal worked on for a very long time but a lot of different countries- and the whole thing could be scuppered by nothing more than Americans partisan system and Presidents inability to get it passed into law (of which there seems to me to be an genuine risk).

'No, the difference is definitely the people, because roughly half of the politically minded population rejects the notion that we need significantly greater gun control'- Eldo

I find it hard to believe that if you polled the US population a majority would be in favour of giving guns to the mentally ill. That's like saying a majority thin its a good idea to stick your hand in a lions mouth. I mean, it might not bite your arm off.

'no gun owner would dare seek medical help for even simple depression. Think about the consequences.
For that matter, how would you feel about at law that restricted voting rights for mental health reasons.'- David


no gun owner would dare seek medical help for even simple depression.- is that really such a bad thing? Not giving depressed people guns I mean?

'“Suicide by firearm is far more common than homicide,” says Garen J. Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis. “Over the past 30 years, firearm suicides have exceeded homicides even when homicide rates were at their highest in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But, since 2006, the gap between the two has been widening, with firearm homicides decreasing and suicides increasing.”

In 2012, the latest year for which data is available, 64 percent of deaths from gun violence were suicides, compared with 57 percent in 2006. This increase can be largely attributed to white males, whose suicide rate far surpasses black and Hispanic males of every age. Among white men ages 35 to 64, the death rate by firearm increased over 29 percent since 1990 (after being corrected for population growth), and a staggering 89.2 percent of those deaths were self-inflicted.'

Maybe mental health needs to be treated a bit ore seriously in the US (and I think that's true of here too, but the US shocks me more often in this regard).

I am all in favour of course of a US NHS, in which case a database of mental health patients can be made and people who need help can be helped (and not say given lethal weapons). It certainly doesn't always work, not everyone goes to seek help with a mental illness and so slip through the net, but its better than nothing.

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:31 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:But that's my point- the systems are where the issues arise. In this case your lobbying system, your system of funding politicians, your written constitution (and I don't see why you cant just amend the 2nd amendment, the whole constitutions riddled with amendments already anyway).



Two days ago your point was that the Presidential system was responsible for government disfunction and I was the one who brought up other factors like lobbyists.  And now you claim this it was actually your point?  I'm out.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:46 pm

Just to give a perspective on my view regarding gun law and where I am coming from- this was passed into law by the Scottish Parliament yesterday-

'MSPs have passed legislation requiring all airgun owners in Scotland to hold a licence.
The Scottish government pledged to introduce the licensing scheme following the death of Glasgow toddler Andrew Morton, who was shot dead by an airgun in 2005.
It was passed by 92 votes to 17.
The new law will mean anyone wanting to own an air gun will need to demonstrate they have a legitimate reason for doing so.
Sharon McMillan, the mother of Andrew Morton, was at the Scottish Parliament as MSPs debated the bill.
She told the BBC: "We are totally delighted that this day has finally come. We never thought it would come. It is a step in the right direction. I know it isn't an outright ban, but it is the next best thing to it.
"I would love to see the guns getting banned altogether, but I know that farmers and pest control need it for work. I just hope that they stick to their words and call it 'Andrew's Law', because that is what we are fighting for." (They did)

Airguns were the only type of gun left here you could buy without a license.


'Two days ago your point was that the Presidential system was responsible for government disfunction and I was the one who brought up other factors like lobbyists. And now you claim this it was actually your point? I'm out.'- Eldo

Shocked I have never in all my discussions of US politics every said it was 100% all down to having a Presidential system. I happened to be talking about the Presidential aspect of it at the time, but that doesn't mean I don't think there are other factors like lobbying involved in other aspects, such as gun control. Of course I do. Its just another bit of your system I think needs seriously looked at again (I also happen to think exactly the same about lobbying in the UK system which is even less transparent than it is in the US- and which when Cameron was in opposition was one of his main policies to tackle- oddly he has never mentioned it once since going into office).
You do seem rather touchy on the matter of criticism of your political system (the bit of me that gets rather anxious every time I read George Orwells 1984 does hope its not some byproduct of pledging allegiance to a flag and an ideal everyday of your childhood!- something which has worried since my own childhood and watching the America navy pupils have to do it everyday at school. I understand the need for it- to create a coherence out of a society of immigrants, but that doesn't mean that as a political and social tool I don't find it worrying, its not out of the good guys box of political tools you know).

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:54 pm

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I grew up not saying the Pledge of Allegiance because of my mother's religious beliefs.  Her interpretation of the Quaker testimony of integrity was that it meant you couldn't swear any sort of loyalty oath (she's hardly alone in this interpretation, btw).  Later on, I continued not saying the pledge, but more as a result of my own political beliefs.

I just said this in my last post but I brought up a bunch of things I didn't like about the US system that I thought presented issues earlier in this thread.  Like literally over the last two pages. Feel free to peruse some of my posts in the "America is wacko" thread for greater elaboration on this.

Fuck your ad hominems.
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by David H on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:56 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:no gun owner would dare seek medical help for even simple depression.- is that really such a bad thing? Not giving depressed people guns I mean?

Who was talking about giving depressed people guns? scratch

I was talking ordinary people who own ordinary guns in the same way they own ordinary kitchen knives.  In my case I have a couple working tools that a farmer needs, and a couple that are family heirlooms.  

It's hard enough for me to get any kind of heath care living out in the country as I do. Increasingly profit-driven decisions have caused most of the rural clinics and small hospitals to close and consolidate in cities with high population densities where profits are better. This means that for all but the most basic services I have now to drive over 100 miles.  

Suppose I took that 100 mile drive because I thought I might need help with depression, only to have the sheriff knock on my door with a warrant to confiscate and destroy grandpa's shotgun?  Why would I even bother with mental health care?  Those are the fears of the ordinary, everyday responsible gun owner.

(Oh and by the way,  yes I've known a few gun suicides, but they've all been elderly people who've lived independent lives and chose their own exit rather than years of what they saw as pointless suffering. It's hard for me to see anything wrong with that. Just saying....)

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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:58 pm

You took that as an attack on your character Eldo?  Shocked
This is what I mean when I say you seem a mite, reactionary, when discussing the US political system. You seem to sometimes take the criticism as if they were against you personally, not your political system.

As to you not taking the pledge, I did not recall you having said so until you mentioned again it just there, there's a lot of conversation to remember on Forumshire over the years for this ageing mind.


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Pettytyrant101
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:05 pm

I was talking ordinary people who own ordinary guns in the same way they own ordinary kitchen knives.- David

But whats to stop someone who doesn't own a gun getting depressed, going to a shop, buying a gun and shooting themselves? A simple requirement for a mental health check before you can purchase a gun would surely be a good idea? Making people wait a bit for the paperwork might also let them decide if they really need a gun, or if they really want to still do it at all.

But to bring it back to your ordinary people and there ordinary guns, it doesn't automatically mean you go round taking away everyone heirlooms- people here still have guns as heirlooms, they simply have to be registered as such and then made unable to fire.
And folk such as yourself, a farmer, have a whole separate set of rules allowing you to possess firearms. If you were a Scottish farmer you'd have guns.
Its not people who need a gun for their everyday work that gun control is concerned with, its people who don't need a gun in everyday life.


Nor do I have a problem with people ending their own life at its end to prevent suffering- but if you note the statistics for the suicides are grouped in the mid 30's not at the end of life. Those people are not ending their life to end prolonged suffering in its final years, they are mentally ill, and there are treatments which can help them. None of which I think should probably involve allowing them to buy guns.

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Gingerlocks and the Three McTyrants

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Pettytyrant101
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Re: FREEDOM!!!! [4]

Post by David H on Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:39 pm

But you do see I hope that the discussion has more shades of grey that you seemed to be suggesting at the beginning? It's those exceptions and allowances that need to be debated in the individual states before any kind of federal law comes down on us. At least in the rural areas the mistrust of grand legislation from thousands of miles away to solve problems we don't think we have runs deep.

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