Our current government is not sustainable
Debate Rounds (3)
I would like to thank copper29 for allowing me the chance to debate this argument, and will apologize ahead of time for any obvious mistakes I make. This is my first debate and I have never taken any formal classes on philosophy, economics, or logic & reasoning.
Part of the problem here would be lack of clarification regarding "government" and "sustainable". Since no specification is provided by Pro I will simply argue based on the literal interpretation of the topic.
Here is my opening statement that argues for continued sustainability of our government based on the following premises:
1. In the U.S., our current form of government is that of a Federal Republic, which can be defined as "a state in which the powers of the central government are restricted and in which the component parts (states, colonies, or provinces) retain a degree of self-government; ultimate sovereign power rests with the voters who chose their governmental representatives. " (1)
2. In order for our government to function, it requires the political backing of it's component parts, some form of funding that can adequately provide for spending, and sufficient military forces to prevent forced takeover from other governments.
3. The Federal Republic governmental system is a separate system from the Mixed Economy that our market operates on.
4. The state of the economy is in part relevant in determining sustainability of our government, but does not hold a definitive influence over it.
Now I will support my premises with explanation.
1: U.S. government is often labeled as Democratic, but this is a generalization of the truth. In a pure democracy power is exercised directly by the people, and not through elected representatives.(2) In our government we elect representatives such as Senators, President, and members of the House of Representatives. Power is exercised through these representatives when they make legislative decisions in congress, executive military decisions in the White House, and judicial revisions in the Supreme Court.
2: A government without the aforementioned parts holds little to no power of any matters in the area it claims to govern. What gives our government power is the collective effort of elected representatives, or in other words the political backing of it's constituents. If states chose to withdraw membership in the U.S., like we saw in the civil war, then the government holds no legislative power in that area.
Our current government employs paid workers in order to carry out it's functions. Police, Public Education, Welfare Programs, Social Security, politicians who hold office, secretaries who work for said politicians, etc. Because these people are paid for their work some type of funding must be provided to the government in order for it compensate. In this discussion I will use the term funding to refer to currency, commodities, or any other thing that is traded as payment. Notice how I don't implicitly say that government needs U.S. dollars or fiat currency to operate. As long as our government has something that others are willing to accept as payment then it can be considered funding in this sense.
Lastly it would be necessary for a government to have adequate means of protecting it's property and people from other parties intent on stealing or taking by force what is not theirs. I think we can agree that if a nation with a strong military wanted to stake claims to another nation's resources that did not posses the means of defending itself that the victim nation's government would be replaced with the invading government or at least rendered ineffective by puppet politicians.
3: It is often confused by many that a democratic government inherently means a capitalistic economy, but the nature of government does not always implicitly state the nature of economy. For example, China is considered a communist country but holds somewhat of a mixed economy. Like most modern countries there is a limited amount of free trade and limited amounts of regulation from government. Likewise it can be said that a Federal Republic does not hold a purely capitalistic economy. There is no absolutely free trade in America. The government does regulate things and has agencies designed to do so. i.e. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, etc.
4: Since it can be said that nature of government and the nature of economy have no absolute correlation AND that the function of a government relies upon the 3 mentioned components then it can also be said that failure of the capitalistic funding component does not immediately spell out doom for the governmental system. The economic system of our mixed economy may be unsustainable and prone to failure due to it's reliance on fiat currency and increasing federal deficit, but in the event that the economy crashes and is unable to recover without essential reform it would not follow that our governmental system of a Federal Republic would fall with it. Our current government operates on funding that is borrowed from the Federal Reserve and collected from it's tax payers in the form of the U.S. Dollar. The U.S. Dollar is in fact a fiat currency, meaning that it holds no intrinsic value and only asserts it's value through it's widespread and standardized use. If our currency no longer holds any value due to it's extreme inflation and rejection by other nations then it would only mean that the U.S. Dollar is no longer accepted as valid payment. This is not to say that the U.S. Dollar is the ONLY payment method available. Long before the U.S. Dollar villagers traded commodities like animals, food products, services, and other things that served a purpose in their continued existance. Eventually trading evolved into payment using gold. Gold has little intrinsic value other than it's rarity and beauty in color. It is said that rarity does not imply intrinsic value. Purple colored poop is rare but that doesn't mean anyone wants it. Never the less it served as a useful tool for traders because it became a standard to which you could trade against. In fact this system is often called "the gold standard".
My main point here is that life goes on without the dollar because our governmental system has three supporting beams that hold it in place. The problem child here being that the funding beam is currently composed of a capitalistic mixed economy. Should this economy fail, it might mean switching to a new currency, perhaps one that is backed by Gold, Energy, or another commodity with intrinsic value. It could also mean redefining the economic practives by changing standards like Gross Domestic Product and removing poor trading practices. This new trading could conform to any number of economic systems, but the nations using them must still be governed in order to define legislation, provide for the common defense, and ensure it's continued support by it's constituents. Also, the current lifestyle lead by Americans does not have to be lead in the same way to be governed using the same system. A downsized lifestyle may be necesarry in a new economy. As I have explained before an economic system has no immediate bearing on the nature of a governmental system because they don't necessarily govern the same things. Government aims to control the laws, military actions, and allocation of it's natural resources. Economic systems control the trade and availability of products made from natural resources, services, and raw resources. These two systems are not completely dependent on each other all the time. While I have no doubt in my mind that the event of the economy failing and the U.S. dollar becoming useless would pose a major disruption to the Federal Republic system, I fail to see where it would mean the end of our current governmental system.
In your opening statement there are too many assumptions that simply are not true. To begin with, The Federal Republic governmental system is not set in stone. In theory it is independent from our economy, however, our government has become more than a federal republic. By definition a federal republic is a form of government made up of a federal state with a constitution and self-governing subunits. At this point, the federal government is becoming more and more intertwined with the not so self governing subunits (although I wouldn't argue against your definition because it does say a degree of self-government). Because of all of this, our government has become a part of the economy. With public programs like the new health care, Medicare and welfare the government effectively is constantly stimulating the economy. But this doesn't work. Say what you will but we have been trying to do this for decades, although it can provide the illusion of a well functioning economy, the system causes large debts to be acquired by the government, which now has a determining role in how the entire economy functions.
However this is not why I think that our current system is not sustainable. It is because of the fact that we spend under the assumption that the economy will pick itself up. However, this is a flawed idea in a state where the government can't have utter control over everything that goes on. This is because it only takes a few banks to go off on their own and for example, give out bad loans that they know are not repayable for personal profit. This is what happened in 2008 and it will be the end of the US, I guarantee it. I do find it hard to explain my thoughts on this topic, but perhaps an analogy would help. Let's take world war one for example. After this war there was a winner and a loser, for our purposes the losers could be the bank owners who lent out money and the winners could be the investors like house flippers, traders and anyone with a risk retirement fund (I know that seems a little backwards, but bare with me). After the war the losers had many sanctions placed upon them which sent them into economic turmoil. But in our case, the losers were given money to start giving out loans again. But this does not work because the winners who take the loans still have no way of repaying them due to the new state of recession in the nation the losers keep losing and this will eventually cause the winners to go down with them. But right now, we are in a lull, the last uptick before death overcomes the nation. I believe that the stock market uptick right now is just an illusion that is backed by nothing more than government debt that is ever rising. At this rate, even with extreme austerity it would take more than 10 years to eliminate the debt that we have acquire. Do I think that we would undergo austerity measures? No, we will have to default before it comes to that. And this default will lead to inflation, and high interest rates to compensate. The price of commodities will skyrocket and the dollar may not exist as we know it ever again. Without some physical backing, we can print as much money as we want to, and printing money, the foundation of our society will inevitably be the downfall of our nation.
Thank you for your response copper29.
Here is my response to your accusations of validity.
1) Pro is very correct in saying that the Federal Republic System is not set in stone, because in truth it is set in paper with ink that was hand written by our founding fathers. The Constitution outlines the form of government that is in power today. For the Federal Republic system to be abolished would require takeover from an internal or external party that throws out the Constitution and it's practices in order to establish it's own system of government. Having a failed economy does not mean complete and total takeover in this fashion.
2) Pro defeats his own claim that the federal government has become more than the federal republic. He quotes my definition, agrees that it definitely defines our form of government, but then goes on to speak about how it isn't what our government is and that our government is also the economy.
Regardless, we can look at past economic crisis such as the Panic of 1819. Panic of 1837, Panic of 1857, The Great Depression, and even the latest recession that we are still in. In none of these U.S. crisis was the Federal Republic system thrown out with the Economic practices that contributed to the crisis. The reason for this is because amidst the widespread poverty our government still went on. Citizens, in their rags and emaciated figures, still went to the polls to vote for new representatives. We still needed congress members, we still needed a President, and we still needed a judicial system. The congress members and the President would all contribute to form the new practices that their economy would function on. In addition they would also initiate programs that would help their citizens get back up on their feet.
The governmental system of Federal Republic was instrumental in reforming the economy in the past and it will be instrumental in reforming our economy in the future.
Now, here are my musings on the economy and it's relevance to government.
Pro's argument relies heavily upon the assumption that failure of economy leads to failure of our current Governmental system. The implications of Pro's argument entail a system of government the central government is not restricted and the component parts do not retain a degree of self government and ultimate sovereign power does not rest with the voters. All of these would no longer be part of our governmental system why? Because the economy failed? I don't think so.
My argument is based in the basic assumption that the economy will not disappear any time in the foreseeable future as long as we still have human beings who need resources. People will still trade furs, cows, crops, services, and other things in order to get what they need.
The form of these tradings, or the form of the economy, has no impact over the form of governmental system because the PEOPLE still want legislative representatives, an executive branch leadership, and a judicial system to interpret the legislation. The governmental system we have now is strong in it's form because it is endorsed by the people living under it. We can look back at nations who had emperors, kings, and queens as the sole rulers of their land. Eventually these countries threw out monoarchy and divine rule and replaced them with the constitutions, legislative branches, and an executive branch. These governments don't all take the form of a Federal Republic but bear a strikingly similar resemblance to them. Economic crisis are not isolated to the United States, and when they do happen in countries where similar governmental systems are in place they do no result in a radical change in government formation. Why is that? Because each country has the endorsement of the people in their form of government. People believe that their form of democracy or republic can go on without reverting to less mature forms of government. The memory of oppresive or totalitarian rule is fresh in the minds of some of these countries and they believe that their democratic system can work. There is no reason to believe that the failure of the U.S. economy would cause a huge uprising resulting in the scrapping of the Constiution and it's form of government. It would mean a country where the central government is not restricted and the component parts do not retain a degree of self government and ultimate sovereign power does not rest with the voters. The people didn't want a government like that in the past and I dont see any evidence that would implicate that they want it in the future.
To be clear, I don't wholly disagree with any of Pro's reasons why the economy may fail. It is true that we may soon have runaway inflation, high interest rates, and expensive commodities, but that doesn't mean that human needs stop existing. The economy may fail, but my friend, the only thing going down with it that belongs to the government are it's current fiscal policies.
copper29 forfeited this round.
Pro's forfeit of the final round says it all.
For my concluding argument I will simply restate my most valuable points.
1. The governmental system is separate from the economic system. While it's true that a governmental system's form can influence an economics system's form, the inverse is not.
2. Our current governmental system is sustainable because it has the three key factors that I listed. The support of the people, the resource/financial funding to stay in operation, and the military force to keep it in power. The most important of these three being the support of the people. In almost every revolution that has lasted more than a century in modern times has resulted in the formation of a government where the people hold the most power. The most successful form of these is the Federal Republic.
So while the sustainability of the economic system is clearly questionable, the governmental system is not as likely to fall so easily. If you wish to see more in depth explanation of these points than just read the previous rounds statements.
I would like to thank all of those who read this debate and are voting. I would also like to extend a hand to Copper29 for allowing me this chance to argue and say that I hope we will meet again on the intellectual battlefield.
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