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Democracy - What's it gonna take?

Sieben
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9/30/2010 7:03:21 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Everyone here seems to hold their own brand of esoteric political views. We all want wildly unpopular things, such as drug legalization or cutting military spending a whole bunch.

In short, everyone's pet ideologies would be voted down, so why does everyone think voters should have all the power? What's it gonna take to kill the sacred cow? It feels like democracy is the modern intellectual religion... See the following brief kritik.

Snippets from Bryan Caplan's article:

"Public choice economists are used to blaming what they call "rational ignorance." In elections with millions of voters, the personal benefits of learning more about policy are negligible, because one vote is so unlikely to change the outcome. So why bother learning?"

"My view is that these are symptoms not of ignorance, but of irrationality. In politics as in religion, some beliefs are more emotionally appealing than others. For example, it feels a lot better to blame sneaky foreigners for our economic problems than it does to blame ourselves. This creates a temptation to relax normal intellectual standards and insulate cherished beliefs from criticism — in short, to be irrational."

"But why are there some areas — like politics and religion — where irrationality seems especially pronounced? My answer is that irrationality, like ignorance, is sensitive to price, and false beliefs about politics and religion are cheap.[10] If you underestimate the costs of excessive drinking, you can ruin your life. In contrast, if you underestimate the benefits of immigration, or the evidence in favor of the theory of evolution, what happens to you? In all probability, the same thing that would have happened to you if you knew the whole truth."

"In a sense, then, there is a method to the average voter's madness. Even when his views are completely wrong, he gets the psychological benefit of emotionally appealing political beliefs at a bargain price. No wonder he buys in bulk."

"Unfortunately, the social cost of irrationality can be high even though it is individually beneficial. If one person pollutes the air, we barely notice; but if millions of people pollute the air, life can be very unpleasant indeed. Similarly, if one person holds irrational views about immigration, we barely notice; but if millions of people share these irrational views, socially harmful policies prevail by popular demand."

"When individual choices in democracy have harmful social side effects, however, many people really do just shrug their shoulders and say, "The solution to the problems of democracy is more democracy." If they wish to sound more hard-headed, they may instead quote Churchill: "[D]emocracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."[11]"

"So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets.[12] By and large, we don't even ask voters whether we should allow unpopular speech or religion, and this "elitist" practice has saved us a world of trouble. Why not take more issues off the agenda? Even if the free market does a mediocre job, the relevant question is not whether smart, well-meaning regulation would be better. The relevant question is whether the kind of regulation that appeals to the majority would be better."

"As long as elites persist in unmerited deference to and flattery of the majority, containing the dangers of voter irrationality will be very hard. Someone has to tell the emperor when he is naked. He may not listen, but if no one speaks up, he will almost surely continue embarrassing himself and traumatizing spectators."

"I suspect that many readers will just view me as "tone-deaf" to democracy. Whether or not the people know what they are doing, don't they have a right to choose?

I can understand when people make this argument about self-regarding choice. Even if an individual does not know his own best interest, I normally think that he should be free to make his own mistakes. The problem with irrational voting, unfortunately, is that people who do it are not "just hurting themselves." If the average voter is irrational, we all have to live with the consequences."
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gerrandesquire
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9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 7:03:21 AM, Sieben wrote:
Everyone here seems to hold their own brand of esoteric political views. We all want wildly unpopular things, such as drug legalization or cutting military spending a whole bunch.

In short, everyone's pet ideologies would be voted down, so why does everyone think voters should have all the power?

Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.


"So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets.

how exactly does democracy prevent it?

"I suspect that many readers will just view me as "tone-deaf" to democracy. Whether or not the people know what they are doing, don't they have a right to choose?

I can understand when people make this argument about self-regarding choice. Even if an individual does not know his own best interest, I normally think that he should be free to make his own mistakes. The problem with irrational voting, unfortunately, is that people who do it are not "just hurting themselves." If the average voter is irrational, we all have to live with the consequences."

i don't understand. which alternate system do you propose?
Sieben
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9/30/2010 8:13:01 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.
The alternative to mass rule is not monarchy. Besides, what's so bad about monarchy?

"So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets.

how exactly does democracy prevent it?
Prevent what?

i don't understand. which alternate system do you propose?
Caplan says that even if you think free markets are a stupid idea, they're likely to be better than democracy for the reasons he mentions in the article.
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annhasle
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9/30/2010 8:13:18 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
At 9/30/2010 7:03:21 AM, Sieben wrote:
Everyone here seems to hold their own brand of esoteric political views. We all want wildly unpopular things, such as drug legalization or cutting military spending a whole bunch.

In short, everyone's pet ideologies would be voted down, so why does everyone think voters should have all the power?

Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.

Why do we need a government in the first place?


"So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets.

how exactly does democracy prevent it?

Prevent what? Voter irrationality? It doesn't.

"I suspect that many readers will just view me as "tone-deaf" to democracy. Whether or not the people know what they are doing, don't they have a right to choose?

I can understand when people make this argument about self-regarding choice. Even if an individual does not know his own best interest, I normally think that he should be free to make his own mistakes. The problem with irrational voting, unfortunately, is that people who do it are not "just hurting themselves." If the average voter is irrational, we all have to live with the consequences."

i don't understand. which alternate system do you propose?

Most likely, Anarchism.
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
gerrandesquire
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9/30/2010 8:22:02 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:13:01 AM, Sieben wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.
The alternative to mass rule is not monarchy. Besides, what's so bad about monarchy?

power in the hand of a single person, absence of any answerability.

"So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets.

how exactly does democracy prevent it?
Prevent what?

prevents private choice and free markets?

i don't understand. which alternate system do you propose?
Caplan says that even if you think free markets are a stupid idea, they're likely to be better than democracy for the reasons he mentions in the article.
Sieben
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9/30/2010 8:24:05 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:22:02 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
power in the hand of a single person, absence of any answerability.
Monarchies don't have a global monopoly on power. Only territorial. Is that so bad?

prevents private choice and free markets?
Voter irrationality leads people to vote down markets in favor of feel-good policies like welfare/warfare.
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gerrandesquire
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9/30/2010 8:28:12 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:13:18 AM, annhasle wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
At 9/30/2010 7:03:21 AM, Sieben wrote:
Everyone here seems to hold their own brand of esoteric political views. We all want wildly unpopular things, such as drug legalization or cutting military spending a whole bunch.

In short, everyone's pet ideologies would be voted down, so why does everyone think voters should have all the power?

Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.

Why do we need a government in the first place?

because we live in a Society. there needs to be someone to govern us. I mean, that is what regulates a country. A society has many people, with different principles and morals, living together. thefts, and evil acts would become common if it were not for a authority.
gerrandesquire
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9/30/2010 8:35:13 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:24:05 AM, Sieben wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:22:02 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
power in the hand of a single person, absence of any answerability.
Monarchies don't have a global monopoly on power. Only territorial. Is that so bad?

it still has a monopoly over power. territorial or global, it still lacks answerability.

prevents private choice and free markets?
Voter irrationality leads people to vote down markets in favor of feel-good policies like welfare/warfare.

no, that is not something a democracy prefers, because free market is favorable to a government. It may support the very poor by providing subsidies, but mostly, the free market is preferred by all, the middle class and rich, and the government.
Sieben
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9/30/2010 8:38:00 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:35:13 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
it still has a monopoly over power. territorial or global, it still lacks answerability.
Whats so bad about lack of answerability?

And what would be so bad about replacing the USA with 100 monarchies? Even if each monarch made their own laws unilaterally, they would still compete with eachother to attract citizens (taxpayers) to them.

prevents private choice and free markets?
Voter irrationality leads people to vote down markets in favor of feel-good policies like welfare/warfare.

no, that is not something a democracy prefers, because free market is favorable to a government. It may support the very poor by providing subsidies, but mostly, the free market is preferred by all, the middle class and rich, and the government.

If they acted rationally, then the masses would prefer the free market. They don't. See the OP.

The rich do not prefer free markets. They prefer special government privileges.

A monarchy is the most likely government to favor free markets, because the king does not suffer irrationality problems and benefits personally from growing the country to its maximum potential. He owns the country, and treats it as his private property. Democracy is a tragedy of the commons.
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mattrodstrom
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9/30/2010 8:38:47 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:13:01 AM, Sieben wrote:
The alternative to mass rule is not monarchy. Besides, what's so bad about monarchy?

Potentially unstable both structurally and Politically... even if you institute a "benevolent" dictatorship there's no gaurantees on it sticking around too long... especially not in it's "benevolent" form.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Sieben
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9/30/2010 8:41:31 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:38:47 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:13:01 AM, Sieben wrote:
The alternative to mass rule is not monarchy. Besides, what's so bad about monarchy?

Potentially unstable both structurally and Politically... even if you institute a "benevolent" dictatorship there's no gaurantees on it sticking around too long... especially not in it's "benevolent" form.

Why are the incentives of a king worse than the incentives of democracy?
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mattrodstrom
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9/30/2010 8:49:17 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
cultures don't change their mind too quick...

Get culture of limited government.... and personal liberty...

institute a limited Democratic Government... and enjoy the ride...

then it becomes a slow Culture war... Rather than individuals who can change their mind right quick... or be shot... or have evil successors

B/c it's Many people rather than 1 the "Benevolent" Ideas are better insured.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Sieben
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9/30/2010 8:52:21 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:49:17 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
cultures don't change their mind too quick...

Get culture of limited government.... and personal liberty...

institute a limited Democratic Government... and enjoy the ride...

then it becomes a slow Culture war... Rather than individuals who can change their mind right quick... or be shot... or have evil successors
Cultural values like peace and prosperity don't matter in democracies. The masses support anti-cultural policies all the time. Cultural ideology changes at lightning speed during crises. Wars, depressions...

I also don't see how you're going to change culture. You don't convince people to change the way they behave, you force them to by giving them different incentive structures.

B/c it's Many people rather than 1 the "Benevolent" Ideas are better insured.
The incentive structure of democracy and monarchy never change.
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annhasle
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9/30/2010 8:57:07 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:28:12 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:13:18 AM, annhasle wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:09:24 AM, gerrandesquire wrote:
At 9/30/2010 7:03:21 AM, Sieben wrote:
Everyone here seems to hold their own brand of esoteric political views. We all want wildly unpopular things, such as drug legalization or cutting military spending a whole bunch.

In short, everyone's pet ideologies would be voted down, so why does everyone think voters should have all the power?

Voters should have all the power because concentrating the power in the hand of a single person, is not the most wise decision to make.

Why do we need a government in the first place?

because we live in a Society. there needs to be someone to govern us.

The problem there is... you don't need someone to govern you. Because the people you elect and choose to give that power to, will abuse it. Which leads to social and political unrest. That's hardly advantageous.

I mean, that is what regulates a country.

Ever heard of the 'free market'? Personally, I'm not Ancap but....

A society has many people, with different principles and morals, living together.

Which leads to majority rule and the crushing of minority rights. It also leads to hyperpluralism and policy gridlock in a democratic government. Once again, not a very 'good' thing.

thefts, and evil acts would become common if it were not for a authority.

They're common with an authority. Can you prove that it would get 'worse'?
I'm not back. This idiot just upset me which made me stop lurking.
mattrodstrom
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9/30/2010 8:59:43 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
I rather be in a Democracy with my ideal laws having been voted in.... then be in a Monarchy with them being forced By 1...

the benevolent laws are on MUCH more stable footing.

and I'd fight a culture war b4 staging Monarchical Revolutions.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Sieben
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9/30/2010 9:03:50 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 8:59:43 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I rather be in a Democracy with my ideal laws having been voted in.... then be in a Monarchy with them being forced By 1...
Did you even read the OP?
the benevolent laws are on MUCH more stable footing.
I'm not advocting benevolent dictatorships btw. I'm saying that even if the monarch regards his citizens as slime or livestock, his incentives are still to promote national stability and growth. No?
and I'd fight a culture war b4 staging Monarchical Revolutions.
You say this because the chances that your opinion make a difference are slim, and cultural change+democracy makes you feel better than Machiavellian monarchy.
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mattrodstrom
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9/30/2010 9:10:38 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 9:03:50 AM, Sieben wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:59:43 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I rather be in a Democracy with my ideal laws having been voted in.... then be in a Monarchy with them being forced By 1...
Did you even read the OP?
the benevolent laws are on MUCH more stable footing.
I'm not advocting benevolent dictatorships btw. I'm saying that even if the monarch regards his citizens as slime or livestock, his incentives are still to promote national stability and growth. No?
and I'd fight a culture war b4 staging Monarchical Revolutions.
You say this because the chances that your opinion make a difference are slim, and cultural change+democracy makes you feel better than Machiavellian monarchy.

feel better like less chances of me or my family starving or being abused by Government.... yes.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Sieben
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9/30/2010 9:13:37 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 9:10:38 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 9/30/2010 9:03:50 AM, Sieben wrote:
At 9/30/2010 8:59:43 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I rather be in a Democracy with my ideal laws having been voted in.... then be in a Monarchy with them being forced By 1...
Did you even read the OP?
the benevolent laws are on MUCH more stable footing.
I'm not advocting benevolent dictatorships btw. I'm saying that even if the monarch regards his citizens as slime or livestock, his incentives are still to promote national stability and growth. No?
and I'd fight a culture war b4 staging Monarchical Revolutions.
You say this because the chances that your opinion make a difference are slim, and cultural change+democracy makes you feel better than Machiavellian monarchy.


feel better like less chances of me or my family starving or being abused by Government.... yes.

Are you going to put forward arguments or just blow hot air? You haven't responded with any substance. You've only repeated the same old lines everyone is taught about democracy, the same way 14 year old christian girls ask atheists "well how do you explain where we came from? Oh, well I just have faith and you should too". Democracy is the modern secular religion.
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mattrodstrom
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9/30/2010 9:16:53 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
also... a monarchs interests Can be fulfilled before that of his people..

they don't have to go together.

and he has much better chances of being a nutjob than the ppl at large
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Sieben
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9/30/2010 9:20:30 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 9:16:53 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
also... a monarchs interests Can be fulfilled before that of his people..
He serves the people's interests at the same time as his own. He maximizes wealth for his empire by pursuing economically beneficial policies, like free markets and peace.

If the USA had a monarch, he could take a 1% cut of the economy for 1 year and the be the richest man on earth 5x over.

they don't have to go together.
But there are good reasons why they do.
and he has much better chances of being a nutjob than the ppl at large
The guys the CIA and WB put in charge are a bit psychopathic, sure. But you still haven't rebutted any of the OP's claims about democracy. It is completely paralyzed and biased towards bad policy. Really, read the OP. Take 5 minutes.
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Volkov
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9/30/2010 9:32:49 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
It is a rather nice idea to take away the power of abuse that a majority in a democracy gets over a good portion of issues, have a freedom-loving "benevolent dictatorship" that guarantees the ability of every person to do what they want no matter the case (except obvious things like murder, etc.), and have a little anarchistic system under the protection of some authority.

But, as others have easily pointed out, it's not that simple. Someone, or some people, with control over this authority can easily turn the ideals of that benevolent dictatorship on its head, and you end up giving the keys of the castle to someone who wants it all to themselves. There's an argument to be made about citizen uprising, but you have to remember again, a lot of dictatorships were started because of some unifying event, idea, or mindset, meaning any popular uprising probably wouldn't start until the populace is already subjugated and control has been established under people's noses.

People seem to think you can tell a totalitarian dictator right away - simply not true. Hitler was a model of a democrat before he came to power in 1933. That dude that was just kicked out in Kyrgyzstan came in on a popular revolt against the old dictator in the event called the Rose Revolution - and he ended up being just as bad. People can and usually will end up supporting those that in the beginning, seem to be all about democracy, or benevolence, and etc. It's in the aftermath that most realize the damage done, but by then, it's too late.

Think about what could happen if a dictator in this abstract benevolent dictatorship made an about face with popular support for whatever reason. What happens to your freedom then?
Caramel
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9/30/2010 10:35:06 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
The main difference between democracy and capitalism is that under democracy the people get one vote, while in capitalism the rich get many more votes.
no comment
Reasoning
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9/30/2010 11:17:00 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Ceteris paribus, monarchy > democracy.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Ragnar_Rahl
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9/30/2010 11:22:15 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 10:35:06 AM, Caramel wrote:
The main difference between democracy and capitalism is that under democracy the people get one vote, while in capitalism the rich get many more votes.

There are no "votes" in capitalism. What the rich get, like anyone else, is absolute control of themselves and their property; which is not a vote, which either controls everyone and all their property, or no one and no property.

Think about what could happen if a dictator in this abstract benevolent dictatorship made an about face with popular support for whatever reason. What happens to your freedom then?
The same thing that's already happened with democracy. There is no political structure that prevents tyranny. If someone governs well, side with them, if not, work against them. It does not matter whether they operate by elections or personally dictate or something in between.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Sieben
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9/30/2010 12:48:44 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
No one has addressed the OP. Does this mean everyone agrees this is a legitimate critique of democracy? Does no one see how damning it is? It basically guarantees that voters will choose the wrong policies and that narrow special interests will always win.

When people ask me what alternative i'd prefer, I'll of course say anarchy. But let's not drag this down into another one of those discussions. Instead, I'll simply say that the "type" of government is not the core issue (although a case can certainly be made that monarchy is vastly superior to democracy).

No, the issue is citizen choice, which is correlated with some smaller states. People are fond of saying that smaller democracy works better, and that's true, but not for the reason they think. 1/10million ~ 1/1million ~ 1/1000 in terms of vote margins.

So its not that individual votes all of the sudden become significant under small democracies. There are countless examples of smaller democratic latin american countries that have way worse policy than the USA.

No, if you look at the model states people all idolize, like switzerland or luxembourg, large percentages of their populations are foreign. In other words, they have done something to attract people to them, and get the benefits of having more taxpayers. Kind of like how corporations compete with one another for consumers.

Its just usually a little harder to change governments than to change shoe brands. Though if we have smaller governments, there will be more accountability because vote-with-your-feet will mean something. We don't have to debate the optimal type of government (democracy, monarchy) any more than we have to debate the optimal shoe type (loafer, Velcro, sneaker).
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Sam_Lowry
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9/30/2010 12:58:15 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Did someone seriously suggest that the rich prefer free markets?

I mean, maybe your definition of free market is a relatively unregulated one other than the places where rich people lobby to gain unfair advantages or put competitors out of business through legislation and outright state corruption.

Yeah, I guess you could kind of consider that a free market.
Korashk
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9/30/2010 1:28:47 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'm fairly certain that a lot of us who hold views that would never be passed in a truly democratic society are not advocated of democracy.

I for one think it's among the worst forms of government.
When large numbers of otherwise-law abiding people break specific laws en masse, it's usually a fault that lies with the law. - Unknown
innomen
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9/30/2010 1:38:40 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 1:37:27 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 9/30/2010 12:48:44 PM, Sieben wrote:
No one has addressed the OP.

Probs tl;dr.

Yes.
gerrandesquire
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10/1/2010 12:30:37 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 9/30/2010 12:58:15 PM, Sam_Lowry wrote:
Did someone seriously suggest that the rich prefer free markets?

I mean, maybe your definition of free market is a relatively unregulated one other than the places where rich people lobby to gain unfair advantages or put competitors out of business through legislation and outright state corruption.

Yeah, I guess you could kind of consider that a free market.

that is technically a free market. The other type is where government controls the price of the articles by providing subsidies and giving support to the budding businessmen.

And democracy provides a workable balance between the two.