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Thread: Can there ever be too much democracy

  1. #41
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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    Are you arguing that the system of application itself is the problem - or direct democracy itself?
    Direct democracy itself. Whether its implemented through ballot initiatives or referenda or simply-majority constitutional amendments, you'd get largely the same results. California's system is particularly awful, but direct democracy in general suffers from the same problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    This is the bit I'm curious about - was it the system that you criticise or the people who vote using that system?
    The system. I just use California as an example because it's the most obvious example in the United States. It's nothing against Californians specifically. I think you'd find a similar pattern among the electorates of most other states if they had a California-style system. The people will vote themselves access to more and more spending, but won't increase their taxes to pay for it.

    With that said, it probably wouldn't be as severe of a problem in other states. California is the absolute worst state to have this kind of system because it is so enormous.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    I find this strange - the Swiss example has delivered a system where the voting electorate is more informed and more aware of the actions and working of their law makers. Swiss elected lawmakers still make the majority of laws and these laws can be put to test if the electorate chooses - and the result is that lawmakers have to be more careful about their decisions because they know they are scrutinised.
    Switzerland has roughly one-fifth the population of California, and is not nearly as diverse. It's also a decentralized confederation of cantons, whereas US states are extremely centralized. Furthermore, Switzerland has a well-educated population and a strong culture of civic responsibility which simply does not exist anywhere in the United States.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    This would work as a system in a community of 10 just as easily as with a community of 1 billion.
    How so? Scaling government up tends to make it more complex proportionally. By the same token, communism works great in a family of 4, but not so great in a nation of 100 million.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    Seems all the critique of the American voting public that I see here is because the version of direct democracy applied is open to making bad decisions.
    So do you think California would function better if it emulated the Swiss system? What changes would you make? And what would stop the people of California from voting to straitjacket their government again?

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    Then again - even though most US posters seem to say it doesn't work - a lot of internet research indicates that many US States allow for versions of direct democracy.
    ...which is why most of us think it doesn't work.
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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by TurtleDude View Post
    I went to private schools as does my son

    but one can argue an educated society is best for everyone

    welfare merely creates more parasites who take more and more

    educated people produce wealth and need and demand less handouts
    Schooling aside, you still get a tax credit for having babies which I do not. Who's the parasite?

    You probably own your own home. You get a tax credit for the interest you pay.

    I rent. I get nothing. Who's the parasite?

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    Don't know too much about Switzerland's direct democracy failings but that seems to put nearly every political decision in the hands of the Swiss public.

    We don't read of Switzerland as a land of instability and chaos.
    Switzerland was the last country in the industrialized world to give women the right to vote because of this system. This happened first in 1971 and only for federal elections. Local elections ban on women voting continued for many years more in some cantons.
    PeteEU

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- Switzerland has roughly one-fifth the population of California, and is not nearly as diverse. It's also a decentralized confederation of cantons, whereas US states are extremely centralized. Furthermore, Switzerland has a well-educated population and a strong culture of civic responsibility which simply does not exist anywhere in the United States.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- With that said, it probably wouldn't be as severe of a problem in other states. California is the absolute worst state to have this kind of system because it is so enormous.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- The system. I just use California as an example because it's the most obvious example in the United States. It's nothing against Californians specifically. I think you'd find a similar pattern among the electorates of most other states if they had a California-style system. The people will vote themselves access to more and more spending, but won't increase their taxes to pay for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- Whether its implemented through ballot initiatives or referenda or simply-majority constitutional amendments, you'd get largely the same results. California's system is particularly awful, but direct democracy in general suffers from the same problems.
    I've restructured your post - not added any words - hopefully to demonstrate my point that it's not direct democracy itself but how it's applied in different states that is the problem. I still believe the size of Switzerland is a red herring for those who think DD itself cannot work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    --How so? Scaling government up tends to make it more complex proportionally. By the same token, communism works great in a family of 4, but not so great in a nation of 100 million.
    If you take a nation of 500million and explore how you could decentralise it in the way Switzerland has with its cantons you then have a more manageable system. It's one of the reasons the EU has been studying Direct Democracy - not that I'm a fan of the EU or the Euro - and Europe has a population (no figures in front of me) of approximately 800 million plus across all the different countries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- So do you think California would function better if it emulated the Swiss system? What changes would you make? And what would stop the people of California from voting to straitjacket their government again?
    I will I'm afraid evade answering this, I'm not American and most discussions I've ever had with American posters on this or any other forum regarding any changes in the US usually end because of my lack of knowledge of how anything is affected by your constitution. It's why I made my proviso in an earlier post in this thread that I was not and had no intention of discussing the US. I'm discussing DD in general only I'm afraid.

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by TurtleDude View Post
    I went to private schools as does my son

    but one can argue an educated society is best for everyone

    welfare merely creates more parasites who take more and more

    educated people produce wealth and need and demand less handouts
    Welfare comes in many forms--your 'parasite' comment is a gross mischaracterization of the many types of people who receive welfare. You're attempting to portray them all as the urban welfare mom--a negative racial stereotype.
    *Vets receive welfare.
    *Disabled persons receive welfare.
    *Parents of children who weren't born as healthy as your son receive welfare.
    *The 'educated' AIG execs, Auto execs, Agricultural execs, all except some form of government handouts.

    Re: Educated People and their Wealth...

    As an educated person, I'm sure you know that industry relies on a working class to produce wealth. Pragmatic safety nets, welfare, are how we keep the working class from becoming demoralized during periods of economic recession/depression.

    When the educated CEO mismanages his company and factories have to close, we help the working class to get by while we regroup and restructure.

    As an educated person who creates wealth, I'm sure you understand the basic philosophy and purpose of welfare--to promote the basic well-being of individuals in need. Programs are not perfect and will periodically need an overhaul, reform.

    Perhaps you should [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_Reform_Act_of_1996"]read up on the ways we've reformed[/ame] welfare to serve the greater purpose maintaining a basic standard of living while getting people back to work.

  6. #46
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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    I've restructured your post - not added any words - hopefully to demonstrate my point that it's not direct democracy itself but how it's applied in different states that is the problem. I still believe the size of Switzerland is a red herring for those who think DD itself cannot work.
    The size is important. Even in the United States, direct democracy works adequately well in small, homogeneous communities in Vermont. But when you try to scale it up to the size of a state, it doesn't work anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    If you take a nation of 500million and explore how you could decentralise it in the way Switzerland has with its cantons you then have a more manageable system.
    The centralization or decentralization of a government seems far more important than whether it has direct democracy or representative democracy. I think it's backwards to want to tinker with the degree of centralization in order to accommodate the degree of public involvement in legislation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    It's one of the reasons the EU has been studying Direct Democracy - not that I'm a fan of the EU or the Euro - and Europe has a population (no figures in front of me) of approximately 800 million plus across all the different countries.
    My hunch is that that can't possibly work for an entity as large and diverse as the EU. Keep in mind that the EU is already extremely decentralized...much moreso than Switzerland. With the exception of monetary policy, nearly all government decisions in the EU are made at the national or lower level, rather than the supranational level. Personally I think the EU needs to concentrate on getting representative democracy to work before they worry about expanding it to the people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos
    I will I'm afraid evade answering this, I'm not American and most discussions I've ever had with American posters on this or any other forum regarding any changes in the US usually end because of my lack of knowledge of how anything is affected by your constitution. It's why I made my proviso in an earlier post in this thread that I was not and had no intention of discussing the US. I'm discussing DD in general only I'm afraid.
    Fair enough. Basically what happened in California with direct democracy was that Californians voted for constitutional amendments limiting their government's ability to raise taxes. The people of California have also consistently voted for one spending increase after another. This caused a huge deficit, which is why California is now teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I don't really see any easy way to prevent that sort of thing in ANY direct democracy system. Average voters don't consider the unintended consequences of the policies they vote for; that's true regardless of what sort of direct democracy system is in place.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 05-14-10 at 04:37 PM.
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  7. #47
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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    The size is important. Even in the United States, direct democracy works adequately well in small, homogeneous communities in Vermont. But when you try to scale it up to the size of a state, it doesn't work anymore.
    I appreciate your views regarding the system in the US - however I am not convinced as I am certain that problems exist more because of the way it is applied where there are problems in the US than because of direct democracy itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- My hunch is that that can't possibly work for an entity as large and diverse as the EU.
    There have been quite a few studies and academic papers written on this. What stops the application is the very real problem of firstly taking away current sovereign powers that reside in separate governments in order to then create a decentralised direct democracy system for those EU countries that would use it.
    Hope that makes sense!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Keep in mind that the EU is already extremely decentralized...much moreso than Switzerland. With the exception of monetary policy, nearly all government decisions in the EU are made at the national or lower level, rather than the supranational level. Personally I think the EU needs to concentrate on getting representative democracy to work before they worry about expanding it to the people.
    This is why they're exploring direct democracy. There's a lot of resistance to giving up national and sovereign powers in order for such a system to work.

    It's partly also the reason for the rise in interest in "regionalism" (but not in the way one European poster here used to advocate) where EU regions get local funding and support from the centre and make local decisions on the expenditure. What exists is a sort of halfway house - regions are seeking autonomy (ironically they've been given the raison d'etre to exist through the EU and some regions remain anti-EU - but the irony exists that without the EU, there wouldn't be the funds to support the growth in regional centres and decisionmaking) but the overarching structure of representative democracy is where the major decisions are made.

    That same overarching representative body is much disliked by many as an expensive and powerless chamber.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    -- Fair enough.
    Thank you! I don;t mind discussing world / european / british affairs with Americans but I find some Americans can be very anti no US posters discussing US affairs. Easier just to avoid the subject.

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    ''I believe mostly not''

    I think the same. But, I think many have an over simplified view of what democracy means. It is not simply the 'bludgeoning of the people by the people', or the the majority rules.

    A functioning and progressive democracy is vital for any country to maintain peace and a healthy standard or living.

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    ''I didn't think there could be "too much democracy", but the longer I live, the more apparent it is to me that most people cannot handle it with responsibility, and feel obliged to abuse it for their own self-interests.''

    What would you replace it with though?

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    Re: Can there ever be too much democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mell View Post
    ''I didn't think there could be "too much democracy", but the longer I live, the more apparent it is to me that most people cannot handle it with responsibility, and feel obliged to abuse it for their own self-interests.''

    What would you replace it with though?
    Constitutionally-limited republic. Emphasis on constitutionally-limited.

    Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24
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