Do Drones Undermine Democracy? – NYTimes.com.
Do Drones Undermine Democracy?
Published: January 21, 2012
IN democracies like ours, there have always been deep bonds between the public and its wars. Citizens have historically participated in decisions to take military action, through their elected representatives, helping to ensure broad support for wars and a willingness to share the costs, both human and economic, of enduring them.
In America, our Constitution explicitly divided the president’s role as commander in chief in war from Congress’s role in declaring war. Yet these links and this division of labor are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined.
We don’t have a draft anymore; less than 0.5 percent of Americans over 18 serve in the active-duty military. We do not declare war anymore; the last time Congress actually did so was in 1942 — against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. We don’t buy war bonds or pay war taxes anymore. During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased war bonds that brought the government $185 billion; in the last decade, we bought none and instead gave the richest 5 percent of Americans a tax break.
And now we possess a technology that removes the last political barriers to war. The strongest appeal of unmanned systems is that we don’t have to send someone’s son or daughter into harm’s way. But when politicians can avoid the political consequences of the condolence letter — and the impact that military casualties have on voters and on the news media — they no longer treat the previously weighty matters of war and peace the same way.
For the first 200 years of American democracy, engaging in combat and bearing risk — both personal and political — went hand in hand. In the age of drones, that is no longer the case.
WITHOUT any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution’s mandate for authorizing it. Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.
Read the full article here: The New York Times
America’s Unlevel Field – NYTimes.com.
America’s Unlevel Field
Published: January 8, 2012
Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals — and Republicans were not happy. Mitt Romney, in particular, insisted that where Roosevelt believed that “government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,” Mr. Obama believes that “government should create equal outcomes,” that we should have a society where “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”
Let’s talk for a minute about the actual state of the playing field.
Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in The Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.
Read the full article here: The New York Times
Filed under charter schools, college, economy, education, inequality, medical care, Obama Presidency, politics, poverty, society, the rich, unemployment, USA, welfare
No longer the land of opportunity – The Washington Post.
By Harold Meyerson,
“Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society,” Mitt Romney wrote in USA Today last month. The coming election, Romney told Wall Street Journal editors last month, will be “a very simple choice” between Obama’s “European social democratic” vision and “a merit-based opportunity society — an American-style society — where people earn their rewards based on their education, their work, their willingness to take risks and their dreams.”
Romney’s assertions are the centerpiece of his, and his party’s, critique not just of Obama but of American liberalism generally. But they fail to explain how and why the American economy has declined the past few decades — in good part because they betray no awareness that Europe’s social democracies now fit the description of “merit-based opportunity societies” much more than ours does.
Read the full article here: The Washington Post
Filed under banking, corruptopn, dysfunction, ethics (in politics), government, housing, inequality, politics, politics & business, unemployment, USA
Don’t Tax the Rich. Tax Inequality Itself. – NYTimes.com.
Don’t Tax the Rich. Tax Inequality Itself.
By IAN AYRES and AARON S. EDLIN
Published: December 18, 2011
THE progressive reformer and eminent jurist Louis D. Brandeis once said, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” Brandeis lived at a time when enormous disparities between the rich and the poor led to violent labor unrest and ultimately to a reform movement.
Read the full story here: The New York Times
Debt and politics in America and Europe: Turning Japanese | The Economist.
Debt and politics in America and Europe
The absence of leadership in the West is frightening—and also rather familiar
Jul 30th 2011 | from the print edition
Our Unbalanced Democracy – NYTimes.com.
Our Unbalanced Democracy
By JACOB S. HACKER and OONA A. HATHAWAY
Published: July 31, 2011
OUR nation isn’t facing just a debt crisis; it’s facing a democracy crisis. For weeks, the federal government has been hurtling toward two unsavory options: a crippling default brought on by Congressional gridlock, or — as key Democrats have advocated — a unilateral increase in the debt ceiling by an unchecked president. Even if the last-minute deal announced on Sunday night holds together, it’s become clear that the balance at the heart of the Constitution is under threat.
Read the complete story here: The New York Times
The euro bail-out is a conspiracy against democracy – Telegraph.
The euro bail-out is a conspiracy against democracy
The bail-out of the euro represents the introduction of socialism on a continental scale – with the British government‘s cynical endorsement.
9:00PM BST 23 Jul 2011
How very appropriate that tanks should have been rolling through the streets of Brussels on the day that Europe dismantled another pillar of democracy. The military display, as it happened, was commemorating Belgium National Day, not the triumphal march toward financial union, but the coincidence was one of history’s better jokes. Europe is now galloping toward the final realisation of its great post-war dream: the abolition of independent nation states whose governments are answerable to their own people.
It is important to realise what is at stake here. When you exercise your right to vote for one party or another in national elections, you are, more often than not, doing so on the basis of its fiscal policies: that is, what it proposes to do about tax and spending. There could scarcely be a more important function of the electoral process than this. If the government is not accountable to you for what it does with your money, and how much it will take from you to do those things, then what is left of your power as a citizen? In what sense is your consent to being governed required? If responsibility for these decisions is to be removed from the elected governments of individual countries and transferred to a pan-European entity, then we are setting out on a course with the most terrifying political implications.
Read the full story here: The Daily Telegraph