Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thinking too much again

I’ve been reading about various types of governments and various theories for the best kind of societies. Right now, I am trying to absorb a bit more of Karl Marx’s vision for humanity. I can only absorb Mr. Marx in small doses, so it is taking me a while to get it. Personally, I don’t think Karl paid enough attention to human nature. That’s just my opinion. His ideas seem to be working well in Greece, of course, and well enough to where France is going to try it on for size now, I hear. The current batch of leaders in my own country want very much to play the Marx game too, have made a downpayment on it, would do more but for the pesky Republicans. It is working here too, slowly but surely, as more and more people begin to think that working is for suckers.

If one attempts to define an ideal society, or if one sets out to establish an “ideal” government from scratch, it would seem that the first thing one would have to do would be to come to an agreement about “human nature.” That is, you would first have to know what it is people want their lives to be like. Once you know this, you can begin working on inventing a structure that would meet the requirements.

It seems to me that if a survey were taken from a random sampling of 1000 people in varying circumstances, asking them to write down 20 or so things they would definitely want to see in a new society or new government, most of the things on that list would be similar. Certainly the survey-taker would be able to come up with a “top ten” concensus that the new society or government would have to include in its structure. Beyond that top 10 or 15, though, we would start getting more things on the list that were specific to the individual’s dreams or wants, and the list would no longer be general enough to define a society or government that would be workable or be responsive to the vast majority of the people’s most important wants and needs. You would have to draw the line somewhere as to what a society or government can or can not logically include in it’s basic framework.

The word “Utilitarianism,” when used to describe a particular political system or society of people, refers to the doctrine that “actions are right if they are useful to or for the benefit of a majority.” Some might go further and assert that “an action is right insofar as it promotes happiness” and “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people should be the guiding principle of conduct.” Those things which only benefited a minority of people would have to be paid for by those who wanted those things. [Quotes from a dictionary definition of Utilitarianism. Non-quotes are my own words.] Of course, this concept would not allow for a zillion empty handicapped parking spots or costly ramps to places nobody ever goes in a wheelchair. No more Affirmitive Action, either. So Utilitarianism wouldn’t work in our society today.

I’ve thought a lot about my own idea of a perfect society or government if I were setting one up from scratch. My conclusion is very likely different than yours, but I think my idea would be an individual living free on his own land, taking care of himself and his family if he had a family, getting along with his neighbors and helping them when they needed help, pooling resources when some community project was needed. Whatever an individual wanted beyond this would be provided by teaming up with like-minded people who wanted the same thing, and otherwise leaving other people alone to work on their own life desires. In my mind I would see a society or government facilitating these desires, providing protection, and minding its own business on a larger scale. I don’t see a government or society which feels its duty is to compile a list of things it thinks would be best for “Its” people, and then forcing them to work and pay for the things on that list.

Odd: it strikes me that is the kind of society that the settlers of this country wanted too, and why they fled Europe. I wonder if there is some way that original concept of personal freedom could be extrapolated over hundreds of millions of people? Probably not.

The original pre-white-invasion owners of my country worked out a system of living that served their own needs and strived to provide for their wants. Their society was a bit harsher for people who didn't want to work, I suppose. But, as any Native American will tell you, incoming numbers soon get hard to absorb. The individualistic kind of life I've yearned for above most likely is not going to work for 300 million plus people. At least not for the non-farming New Yorkers. I suppose that means we have no chance of starting over and doing it right this time, but perhaps we can make positive changes to what we have. The only way to accomplish that kind of massive change would be to, again, ask ourselves exactly what it is we want. Unfortunately, my own "survey list" includes things like taking care of the helpless and genuinely needy, so I am not one to preach. Call me an idealist. That's better than calling me bear snot.

I must admit that I do have daydreams of a government benefit office where all the folks seeking welfare assistance and fake disability checks were instead given access to a few acres of land, a bag of seeds, and a couple of hogs and told to work or starve. But that’s another story for another time.


  1. Marx, of course, did not either envisage or condone a society where "working is for suckers".
    Far from it. It seems to me that Marx' basic vision was not so far from what you propose. A society in which people co-operate to achieve things that individually they could not do, a society that bands together for protection against threat.
    The implementation of those ideals always falls down when confronted by human nature.
    Let us imagine your perfect society. Max lives on his acres, cuts trees with the axe he made from a handy lump of rock tied with sinews to a windtorn branch. In a year, he splits a few trees down to make planks, and gradually builds a cabin, whose worst draughts he keeps out by chinking the gaps with a mixture of moss and cow-dung. One day he'd like to have a cow of his own, but right now he can't afford it, because he has not gathered enough nuts to both last through the winter, and trade.
    Unfortunately, there's heavy rain. Max's nuts get damp and go mouldy, and there's nothing left that he can trade to his more prosperous neighbours for food. Cold, starving, coughing, Max goes out to try hunt, but the squirrels dodge the rocks he hurls at them. His neighbours see him becoming weaker and more forlorn every day. They shrug. "Just goes to show you that he should have invested in a tupperware nut-store instead of wasting his savings buying that cow-dung."
    It never occurs to them that it would be a humane thing to do, to maybe leave a breadcake or two at his door. If he didn't properly provide for himself, well, it's a sad thing, but it's nobody else's responsibility. The neighbours thus give their spare bread to the pigs, and raise more bacon. Max dies.

    1. Thank you for that interesting analysis. Even the things you were connecting rather thinly to my post were thought provoking, though I feel the knot in your mooring line may have gotten loose toward the end and your boat may have drifted off from the wharf. That, or maybe you discovered a bottle of scotch in the forecastle. :)

  2. Forget the INTP. Definitely and ISTJ. Very interested in details, right up to the moldy nuts. :)

    1. And yet, you can't spell "nitpick" without intp.

    2. Definitely not ISTJ, just looked it up. INTP all the way.

    3. No, you like the sensations given off by moldy things and you can't see the wood for the trees, and you are (almost obsessively) judgmental. I may yet downgrade you even more from an INTP. Perhaps to a lowly feeler. Now, as a TRUE intp I am NEVER judgmental. When you read all the way to the bottom of posts, then you may critique.

      PS - I don't have a clue what I am talking about, but it sounds outrageously accurate.

    4. I have always flitted between an INTP and an ISTP and long ago decided I must simply be on the 50-50 line, so I just go with the flow. I like theories and systems, but I also like to hold tools in my hands and operate machinery and equipment. I can argue Spinoza fairly well, but I love to dig a trench with a backhoe or drive a forklift in a warehouse. I have given up trying to decide. My theory is to do what I like doing and forget stuffing myself into the box of "type".

      Telling me to stop analyzing is the same as telling me not to breathe.

      I likes to explain things, see... :)

  3. You, like Marx, did not include human nature.
    The 'self' is the centre of the world. The 'self' is greedy, wants its own way, cares not for others, and is always No.1.
    Whatever system you use the 'self'interferes, cheats, lies, and becomes No 1.

    Only Jesus can change the 'self,' read the book.......

    1. I think you are going overboard a bit. MY self is not the center of the world. I just want to live with my family and get along with my neighbors. MY self is not greedy. I just want to feed my family and be left alone by the federal all-consuming Blob. I care for others, want to see them fed and clothed and cared for when they can't do it themselves. I don't interfere, cheat, lie and can't help rising to the number one spot even though I don't really try. I think you are mainly speaking of socialists and Scotspeople. I personally think the teachings of Jesus can change lives and set people on the right path, though far be it for me to publicly say that a vengeful Muhammad might not be right for others.

      I have read the book. The red print part doesn't take long to read and is what one needs to pay most attention to. :)

  4. You also sound too 'socialist' for my liking.
    Bloody Commies!

    1. Don't be ashamed to say the word out loud. You have lived so long among socialists that you think it is right. :)

      Incidentally (if you read the book) Jesus had some socialist concepts, but he also spoke of an amazing kind personal freedom, like no other.

  5. In an alternative scenario, Max looks after his nuts rather better, and prospers. Who knows, in another few years, maybe he'll even be able to afford an iron head for his axe.
    Anyway, he does well, and trades with his neighbours for the things they produce better than he does, and is regarded as the finest nut farmer for as far as anybody can see.
    All these speculative trading visits to other cabins is time consuming. Often there's nobody home, or the hoped-for produce is not available. Max has an idea. What if every seventh day, everybody meets in one agreed place?
    They can take their tradeable goods, all the available trades can be seen there and then, people will meet and arrange trades of labour, oh. and, as they're meeting, maybe romances will blossom.
    He goes from cabin to cabin, wearing out his shoes, and desperate for cardboard, which, as yet, this colony does not produce. But an agreement is made to clear a flat area near the
    river, for the 'market'. Wal agrees to look after the place.
    Well, it's a great success, commerce is brisk. Max's next great idea involves the wheel. He's had one for a while, has analysed it and refined it, it's a wonderful thing, and when he builds a box, and attaches it on two poles to the wheel, he can carry more than ten times as many nuts!
    He calls this invention a "wheelbarrow". Now he realises that if he could only get the wheelbarrow to Wal's mart, then everybody would want one. Oh yes, turnips, potatoes, bread, it could all be carried by Maxbarrows. In fact, he muses, how about he hires a few of the neighbour's strapping young sons, and trains them to be barrow-drivers?
    That way, everybody could have lots of produce at market, and Max would get a percentage in fees!
    Only problem is, all those trees. The barrows won't fit between them.
    At the next Mart, Max propounds his vision, and suggests the building of a 'road' which will benefit the entire community. Everybody shares in building it, or supports with their goods the building. It's suggested that they club together and buy an iron axehead, to aid the work.
    Wonderful! Soon a flat ribbon of road, two barrows wide runs through the forest, with smaller routes to far settlements. Max is prosperous enough to give up nut-gathering, devoting all his time to wheel production, a process he guards secretively.
    One week, that old curmudgeon, Henry, who'd rejected all the calls for assistance with the road, turns up at the market, walking along the road as if he had a right!

    The road-builders are outraged. "You didn't contribute to it, why should you profit from it?"
    It's suggested that all road users wear an emblem, they call it a 'license'. Henry tells them no, he doesn't want one. He'll just use the road. And the market place. Another outcry. And he's not willing to contribute any time, effort, or tree-trunks to Max's latest innovation 'the bridge', a cunning device that allows further profitable trade with the people on the far side of the river, even in the winter, when the ford is too deep to wade.
    Yet he says he'll use it as soon as it's ready.

    And, dammit, he's been seen sketching the 'wheel'
    The road/market/bridge company decide they should have regular meetings to protect their infrastructure and collective rights.

    Henry starts using the roads, in a belligerent manner, and worse, he's built a two-wheeled barrow. The company decide to let Max be their leader, they call him "President" Max, as he "presides" over their meetings. Max suggests they band together and form a militia, and bar Henry and other non-contibutors from use of their roads.

    Henry says he's not going to bow to the federal gubmint and demands to see Max's birth certificate.

  6. The problem with most society concepts, including both Marx and Max, is the same. Great in theory when everyone is working for the greater good; not so good in reality.

    Self-reliance was fine when a family could starve to death in the middle of winter and no one would even know until the spring thaw when the tinker came to sell. No news programs talking about the senseless tragedy, no instant news extolling the neglect of government and neighborhoods for the dead family and we were willing to chalk it all up to either bad planning on their part or God's will. There were no guarantees. You worked til you dropped or, if you were lucky, were pensioned off (at the boss' discretion) with what he was willing to part with on your behalf.

    It didn't hurt that, for the vast majority of people of the time, everyone was living just a smidge above starvation. Sure, there were filthy rich back then, but they were considered a breed apart, special, even chosen by God. And, let's face it, we didn't see 'em much or really know much about them.

    Now, when even the poorest folks have TVs and wifi and throw away enough food daily to feed several people from THOSE times, it seems (and rightly so) a great pity if people who could have readily survived on just a fraction of our extraneous largess die from neglect. And when we realize that people can do everything right, work their asses off, etc. and still get screwed (like a member of the family getting cancer and costing them the mortgage, the savings, college funds, etc).

    The agrarian concept so beloved by Jefferson (who lived QUITE well on the labor of others on his plantation, I might add) is the mainstay of feudalism. And, call me a crazy liberal if you choose, I have no interest in going back to that nightmare.

    Is Marx foolishly ideal? Absolutely. Everyone sharing responsibility but only a few having power = yikes! Not sure, however, that it's any less stupid than having a government bought and paid for by special interests and, as the people, nodding our head to the notion that's the best we can do.

    I do think government is better and more beneficial than it was a thousand years ago, even a couple hundred years ago, when it took up notice of internal issues mostly when they threatened the "crown" and mostly left people to fend for themselves.

    Call me crazy, but I like fire stations and libraries and police. I like the fact I have reliable water right inside my house and that some care is taken to protect my safety in the work place and everywhere else. I like the fact that people have an opportunity to retire without being personally dependent on someone taking pity on them or forcing them to save it all themselves (which worked so well during the Depression).

    Of course, I like the fact that public buildings have taken steps not to exclude a sizable but less-than-the-majority segment of the populous.

    But,then, I never claimed to be sane.

    1. "The problem with most society concepts, including both Marx and Max, is the same. Great in theory when everyone is working for the greater good; not so good in reality."

      When everyone is working for the greater good, that's socialism. So you have me wrong. I don't really want to work for the greater good, especially if I don't get paid more than the ones who aren't working. :) No, my deal is that the individual is where the value lies. In my world, the government, what little there is, exists to enable and facilitate the individual. Picture yourself at the top and Washington at the lowest levels far under your feet. You can do it if you try. It is liberating. :)

      It's not that I don't believe Communism won't work in very small groups (like the Amish, for example), it's just that it takes a certain amount of self-denial and submission to "authority" that I just don't possess. Not for me.

      But maybe that's why I am always unsatisfied with my government. Maybe it is just me wanting not to be told what to do too much. I think it was Buddy Holly who once said "no man is an island."

    2. You make some good points. I don't want my replies seem like I only am trying to rebut everything you say. (Although I am itching to.) Suffice to say you have a different outlook on government than I do. I do believe we are stuck with government. I have no desire to be a farmer, that's not what I necessarily meant when I indicated I would be happiest when I was on my own land and being left alone. I might still work in a factory or own a factory, or whatever.

    3. "I do think government is better and more beneficial than it was a thousand years ago, even a couple hundred years ago, when it took up notice of internal issues mostly when they threatened the "crown" and mostly left people to fend for themselves."

      I don't know if I can even explain myself anymore, but, see, those old "governments" were absolute monarchies and warlords and dictatorial. I have no desire to turn back the clock or become a serf. Todays enlightened government should SERVE the people, not be nicer to them or be more benevolent a sugar daddy to them with the people's money. I don't want a government that is nicer than the old governments. I just want a government that does what I tell it to do, like any other servant, and who doesn't start thinking it is in charge and go wandering off down roads that are of no interest to me and my neighbors. See?

      Suppose our federal government was originally established to facilitate the interactions of the various states and be an authoritative arbiter between them. I know you don't really agree with me that that is the reason the states created a federal government, but if that were true, then if follows that they did NOT intend it to start taking over everything and bossing them around and erasing borders. I guess my vision of the purpose of a federal government is to protect us, act for us in matters when the states need to speak as one voice, and be an arbitrator when states have disagreements among themselves. I realize we are much more cosmopolitan now, even to the point where you may question the need for states to exist at all anymore. You also already know that I would disagree with that, that I think we are not nearly as much in agreement nationally as we would like to believe. Because of our remaining real differences in a national vision as a people, states are still necessary I think. The state is a weird entity that people in europe don't quite understand. My opinion. But then, they don't have them, in the main. They are small enough to have one government. I don't really believe all the countries in Europe could handle being told what to do by one overarching government. Neither can we. And we are big enough and (almost) diverse enough to compare ourselves with Europe.

      Anyway, I still always feel you are reading me wrong and you think I somehow want to go back in time to the old days for the sake of simplification, back to the days of child labor and no unions and no health insurance and people starving or freezing to death unnoticed, and that is just not the case and I don't intend to imply that in my writings.

    4. I don't think you do, just that much of what you stated came from a time when that was the case and fit Jefferson's agrarian thinking nicely. It's easy to get wrapped around the notion that government is all bad. I don't think it is.

      I do agree, however, that is it not currently serving the purpose originally intended, not so much not serving the interests of the states as not serving the interest of We the People.

      I think much of that is a direct result of We the People shrugging our shoulders at the notion that the people we want to elect to serve our purposes are bought and paid for before they ever take office. How THAT became acceptable - the notion is abhorrent and patently ridiculous, but I don't see a way to get a government working for its citizens again until we find a way to abolish it.

      Not that I'm opinionated or nuthin'.

  7. I had to re-read my post a few times, but I honestly can't see where I implied I would be living in any time except the 21st century, complete with grocery stores and iron axes. Maybe it was the recalling of early Native Americans or how the early settlers lived. But even they weren't exactly nut gatherers; they used their guns to shoot game and politicians. No, I believe in a life of personal freedom even in 2012, whether on a farm or in Manhattan, and the possibility of being much more self-reliant and sociable. I have no desire to live in olden times and disregard all the learning and inventions since.

    I think part of the problem - some readers thinking this kind of life is only possible in olden times - is that they can't comprehend that we might possibly be able to have policing and fire protection and roads and libraries and schools and bridges and ever so much more, WITHOUT having a central government to run these things and tax people to bring them into existence. That's ok. I understand your automatic dependence but I just don't want any more than I must endure. Government has a logical but limited place in our society, but the bigger it gets and the further removed from the individual, the more useless an oppressive it becomes. I think I can count the true uses of government on my fingers, and none of them include forcing people in Alabama to build roads and schools in New Mexico. Neither is uniformity for the sake of cookie cutting a virtue. Uniformity is the antithesis of personal freedom and self-reliance, by definition. I think those who like big government like it in order to force their personal vision on others who don't share it, and because they want things bigger than they need to have.

    Are you resigned to having every small detail of your life decided for you by people who think they know best? If so, you will think the concept of the individual being more important than the group is pie in the sky. I get that.

    1. Why?, you ask.
      Because, to my mind the transfer of powers and responsibilities from the state to the individual leads in one direction only. And that is to a breakdown in society, where the strong take what they want, and the weak are fearful. The weak band together, and huddle under the protection of a strong person, whose gang of tough associates will keep off the other bad guys, in return for goods or services given by the weak. Lets call the weak peasants, or surfs. The strong guy? Let's call him 'King', and his associates? Barons.

      I can't see the scenario you put forward in your post leading to anything other than a collapse of society, followed by feudalism.
      As for no iron axes? No complex manufactured goods? I think they can only happen in an organised, co-operative society. The society you describe, how would it govern itself? how would it set its rules and boundaries?

      Who would take action against the predator?
      Who would build roads, and why would they bother? Who would make sure that the electricity came? The water?
      Who would ensure that tradesmen were competent, that the meat was safe to eat, that education could be had, and trusted, who would make the myriad things we take for granted?
      What would be their motivation?

      When you establish your Utopia, and the pirates come to take what is yours, who will come to your aid, and why?

    2. Who would do all those things? The government, of course. Local government and sometimes state government. Not much to do for the federal government except military and mail and a couple other things. What am I missing here? What's with the nuts and the stone axes and the no police protection? I don't want to do away with government, I just want to make it only do only he things the citizens tell it they want it to do.

      Now, I know you are thinking that's exactly what we have right now, but you would be very wrong

    3. There are a lot of things local governments DON'T do. We have clean water now because we have Federal laws. When it was local, local bosses were happy to let everyone use the local water supply for whatever they wanted. It's too easy to buy and sell locally.

      National standards are why there are highways from state to state. Nationalization of companies from local commodities to conglomerates across the nation (now over the world) pushed transportation and communication networks that bring us all together. Not without a price, but the Federal government made it far more fair and even handed than it would otherwise have been.

      The confederacy fell for a reason.

      And, yes, there are reasons this federacy might do the same. But that doesn't mean it can't work, but that it's NOT working.

    4. Of course you know I think you give the federal government far too much credit. All they have really done is make us all do the same things the same way, and thrown in a lot of things they don't need to be involved in (constitution-wise and big-brother-wise) but I continue to agree that a good deal of pulling together to get the things we all need and can't manage on our own is a good thing. Fire protection. Police. Schools. Roads and other infrastructure. Heath standards. Yes, water standards. These are things we need "socialism" for. Just on a state level and not on a national level. Not all of us CARE how good Florida's roads are - at least not enough to help pay for them. Even socialism needs to be close enough to the individual to where he CARES about the things he is paying for.

      The confederacy? It fell because the bad guys had a bigger army. But that doesn't mean the kernel of the constitutional law the Confederacy was fighting for was not correct. Slavery was wrong but not the right to leave the Union.

      "National standards" are almost always unnecessary. In some cases they are necessary and glaringly so. Roads, including "Interstates" may not be as good an example as you think it is. I would encourage you to look up who builds those highways, who maintains them, who decides how fast you can go, etc. There are certain safety standards for "Interstate Highways" the states have agreed with each other on and are eligible for added general maintenance funds only if they keep their standards agreement.

      This is not an argument against socialism by any means, it is only an argument for socialism only at the local and state levels. The feds are for armies and deciding disputes that involve more than one state. Mostly. In fact, maybe you would agree with me that ALL governments, of every level, are by necessity socialistic: they decide what things are needed for the general welfare of their jurisdiction, and then they forcefully raise the money to do those things. I have no argument with that. Capitalism, which we also need to have, is on a different level than "government services for the people." Capitalism, when properly supervised by government (another important government function) keeps quality of goods up and prices down, encourages exploration and innovation, and provides jobs which are paid for by profits rather than the taxpayers.

      I think our only continuing disagreement is the role of the federal government. I say it's business is with the states much more than with the people directly. Preamble notwithstanding. :)

    5. I won't try to change your mind. Not sure you should trust me. After all, we've been Federal Employees for three generations.

      My grandfather, as a Master Planner for the armed services. (You do agree, I think, with Nationalized defense, or maybe not.)

      My father with the EPA and, though I know of more than a dozen examples of state "standards" being meaningless for our health and welfare before EPA and other National Agencies set standards, I somehow think you won't believe me. (Note, specific examples, not vague platitudes).

      And I, of course, have been involved with NASA for more than two decades. Likely, you'd think we'd have been more successful if States had been competing amongst themselves to put us into space. Think how much cooler it would have been to have Florida vs. California vs. Texas (which would likely not have been in the running).

    6. It's not a question of not believing you. And it isn't a question of there not being a place for and a function for the federal government. You are just being facetious since I doubt if I've ever made a single post on this subject that didn't give my opinion of the proper use of a federal government, and protection from enemies foreign and domestic has always been on that list. You know very well I have never advocated the abolition of the federal government. I only believe it has grown out of control and has taken over many things that would be more responsive and less costly/wasteful on a more local level.

      In our society, we need socialistic aspects (god, how often have I blogged this) and we need capitalism for other purposes. You and I just disagree how many things should be on the list of duties of a federal government: you think ALL things and I think only things that truly can't be logically done by individual states and local governments.

      My basic contention is that all things government, on any level, are socialistic in nature (they take money from the people and use that money to provide essential services for the people who live in that jurisdiction) and all things private are of a capitalistic nature or altruistic nature. The government side is a money spender and the capitalistic side is a money producer. That's all. The altruistic side is a money churner (very necessary for charity needs and health services.)

      True, many government projects that serve all the people, like construction projects and Mars landing projects, put people to work. But the money to pay those people come from taxes. NOT SAYING THAT'S A BAD THING, And some of it is indeed capitalistic since it is contracted out. There is a grey area here, don't you agree?

      I think you know very well that I have never advocated dirty water or smokey air or no education for inner city children or kicking out seniors and poor people to die in the gutter. I just think states can do it better. In fact local cities can take care of the homeless and under-served sick people (and certainly education) better than the federal government. Still socialism? You bet. But more responsive, more compassionate, "potentially" less waste and better oversight. Keep the uniformity for uniformity's sake in the armed forces for the most part. I don't think uniformity saves as much money as you perhaps assert, nor does it provide the best services simply because we are all doing the same thing.

      The list of things the federal government should be doing is much longer now than it was in 1787. No doubt. But not nearly as long as liberals want it to be. I don't know what to call myself anymore. Damn sure not a Republican, and some of the Libertarians tenets are downright asinine. That's why I keep trolling on this blog for ideas on how it should be if we just started over.

  8. As far as having only one central government, or having the government take care of our health care through direct taxation (if the people wanted it that way) or even having socialism outright, I don't even have an objection to THAT, as long as our country were only the area of, say, Alabama, like, say, England is. In that case, we would be pretty much of one mind and one historical experience and we could govern with just local governments and one close-by central government. It seems to me that we could be a lot more flexible and responsive (not to mention cost-effective) that way. Now, if one small state, say Massachusetts, want's to have single-payor state-wide health insurance, then let them. As long as that is what the people want to do.

    Unfortunately, when you start getting spread out and people start having different values, you come up against the problem of the people living in Nome not really giving a damn about what the people in Miami Beach thinks is important. Hence the need for strong local/state government, and a federal government who realizes there are certain things it does best (even well, occasionally) and some things that one-size-fits-all is wasteful and unresponsive, both to the needs of the people and the mandates of the constitution.

    Taking Alabama again, or Louisiana, what would happen if each of those states, each only slightly larger than England, had TEN TIMES the people per square mile living there than they do now? Unbelievable chaos. Going from about 100 people per square mile (Alabama, Louisiana) to about a THOUSAND people per square mile, like England, would sure change the equation. You suddenly wouldn't personally know your representation in Parliament any more than you now know your Washington Congressman. You DO now know your state district congressman who you send to the state capital. He or she is your neighbor. He lives in your town, or the next town over. Some things just can't be cookie-cuttered from a small area to a huge area. And God help those who have a huge population stuffed into a small space. Even that is much easier to be socialized, though. My opinion.

  9. People in Leeds don't much care what the people in Bradford think, and we're only ten miles apart.

    I don't know my city councillor, nor my member of parliament.
    We're not at all pretty much of one mind.

    And a 'united states of europe'? Ha. for a start we all speak truly different languages, and have fought countless wars against each other.

    Believe me, there's no more sense of kinship between, say, Buckinghamshire and Cornwall than there is between Iowa and Hawaii.

    1. You would have more sense of kinship if you didn't have 1000 people per square mile piled on top of each other. You need a buffer zone. :) You need to move everyone from bradford down to Essex. You are our future. Anyway, it is still easier to do things with one main government when you are not as big as Europe. Smaller means it is easier to have one government doing all sorts of social things and doing it reasonably well. My theory is that's why your social stuff is working (at least working as well as it does.) And if you have a smaller population in the same area, it works even better. But if you have a large population spread out, it doesn't work even as well as it is working for you now. And you have a hell of a lot more shared history than we do now. You are the natives. :)

    2. I like your thinking there. As I write, we're starting the move of all the residents of Bradford to Essex. Things up here will be a lot quieter and more relaxed, and the abandoned city will be redesignated as an experimental national park. We'll nurture its flora and fauna, abandoned parrots will breed in the echoing rooms that once were home to Bradford's council. I'm all for reintroducing wolves, and maybe bears. If all goes well, we'll do Manchester next.



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