Simple question: Can democracy exist with vast wealth disparity?

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AgedGrunt:

nyysjan:
[Citation Required]

I encourage you to actually read the news and follow the Congressional investigation, particularly the part where an official at the heart of the IRS probe originally made refuting statements yet now refuses to cooperate by invoking her 5th amendment rights. There are also published accounts by NPO start-ups that were targeted. Do your own research.

If you mean the time when IRS checked in on organizations asking for tax exempt status to see if they were qualified one.
Well, that's hardly going after people.
They also were checking on liberal groups, or any that sounded like political groups.

Also, nice dodge on having to back up your empty claims.

again, [citation needed].
And no, i am not going to do your legwork for you.

Nixou:

Can democracy exist with vast wealth disparity?

It can... for a while, but it won't survive long.

The problem is that the greatest the wealth disparity, the more efforts the rich will do to rig the competition and make sure that their own children -even the most inept and lazy- keep enjoying the lavish lifestyle they've grown used to.

And the best way to rig the competition is to make sure that being on top of the social food-chain becomes an hereditary privilege enforced by the State, therefore to ensure not only that the highest rankings members of the government hail from the upper-class, but also that as few as possible feel empathy toward the plebs, hence to either abolish the ballot box or to turn it into a meaningless empty shell.

Basically, the greatest the wealth disparity, the strongest the pull to demolish democracy.

I agree with that. Democracy CAN exist in such a reality, but it would exist because the elites allow it and self-censor their actions.

MammothBlade:
Snip

I disagree with your view of democracy. The main point of the concept is to create appropriate channel for the airing of grievances and receiving a response. That has been the movement in Western Europe from absolute kings where individuals sometimes received the ability to ask the King for a redress of grievances, to Noble parliaments that increased the amount of people who can get the treatment and increased its effectiveness in responding to a wide variety of issues, to partial democracy where men and the landed could vote, to the democracy we see today.

In an actual democracy, neither trade unions nor protests would be necessary because everyone would be able to air their issues and receive a united response. The thing is, capitalism and fascism and communism all undermine that concept. Capitalism states that the group cannot interfere in affairs of economics (in most cases), which is ridiculous. Communism and fascism (as practised) state that the people on top will decide everything for you, hence actually going backwards to the age of Kings.

I would point to small experiments like the Kibbutzim in Israel (which don't really exist anymore for a variety of reasons) as examples of true democracy. And honestly, I don't see it working in large sizes at all. The system you describe is what must exist because democracy fails, not inherent facets of democracy.

The Gnome King:
Is this *really* what world you want to live in, libertarians?

Just out of curiosity. The top 85 "job creators" have as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion "moochers" combined. But, that's because they WORK SO HARD, right? And those poor folk... well... just keep trying.

Without the /sarcasm on - this was once a famous quote:

"It also quotes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, 'We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.'"

It's like the opposite of Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Thoughts?

Was Justice Brandeis simply *wrong* ...?

You confuse democracy (offering people choice,governed by the many) with capitalism (free market,limited government,power to the businesses).
While these two can coexist,one doesn't need the other to exist.

The Gnome King:

Revnak:
Doing things like fully paying for schooling through college without loan debt and lowering the barrier to entry for small businesses is probably something that would help level the playing field without having to just outright say, "the wealthy should have less money because they are enemies of democracy." A very progressive tax code does help though, perhaps one focused taxing wealth rather than income.

I fully support taxing wealth, not income! (Or at least, not income until a certain threshold - say, $30,000 or so)

However, realize that even free student loans are a form of wealth redistribution. In order for me to get free student loans (And Goddess, how I wish I could have gotten free student loans - mine cost about $40,000 and I just paid them off) - somebody else would have had to pay higher taxes to subsidize my education, which a lot of conservatives/libertarians absolutely hate the idea of.

It's a better idea than just handing people cash, sure, because education has payoff in spades (usually) - but it's still wealth redistribution. And it's a type I support!

In that sense, why not have a system in which someone is required to pay back their student loans, without interest, if they pass a certain income threshold? It would allow anyone access to higher education, regardless of status, and still minimize the amount that taxes would have to be raised for the additional revenue. If someone was unable to find work after college, they wouldn't have to worry about being stuck in debt. It's far from a perfect solution, but what do you think?

RiseUp:
snip

Actually, that's more or less the exact system we use in Australia. It's the HECS debt, and it works as you described. There's an income threshold, it's no interest (or very little) and its taken out as a part of tax.

However, it's worth noting that our current Prime Minister has been looking at slashing costs and privatizing everything he can, and he's made the privatization of tertiary support a goal of his. Its... looking grim at the moment.

Anyway, I think there should be safeguards in place to ensure that not even the richest in our society have more than a voice than the poorest. I'm sleep deprived, so I cant think of anything specific right now.

Porygon-2000:

RiseUp:
snip

Actually, that's more or less the exact system we use in Australia. It's the HECS debt, and it works as you described. There's an income threshold, it's no interest (or very little) and its taken out as a part of tax.

However, it's worth noting that our current Prime Minister has been looking at slashing costs and privatizing everything he can, and he's made the privatization of tertiary support a goal of his. Its... looking grim at the moment.

Anyway, I think there should be safeguards in place to ensure that not even the richest in our society have more than a voice than the poorest. I'm sleep deprived, so I cant think of anything specific right now.

Aside from the weird videogame regulation and the amount of insects that are way larger than they should be, Australia sounds like something of a wonderland. I'll have to keep that in mind once I'm out of college.

Government ensuring access to higher education is a great way to keep markets competitive as well, I don't know why more countries don't do it. Well I know why good old 'Murica doesn't (because a lot of my countrymen have a fear of socialistic policies left over from the Red Scare and the Cold War) but I don't see why that kind of system isn't more prevalent around the world.

So tempted to just post my essay I handed in today for what I've been studying...

In short: No. No we can't with the current level of human knowledge.

In theory, yes it would be perfectly plausible, if everyone started off on a relatively, or at least sufficiently high footing.

image

I don't quite think that certain citizens have the time, inclination, urge, sense of responsibility... or just general sense of giving a damn in order to vote in any way which would be considered taking in all relevant information and making an informed decision about who is best to vote for.

And then that^^^ for many countries, is compiled by the voting system giving a binary choice of a Fat animal with tusks VS a dumb stubborn animal with mere teeth. Oh boy, I don't know why you all kid yourselves about Democracy anymore. When the human mind has decided which random number to pick from 1 to 10 in their head before being asked... why are we kidding ourselves as to not being heavily influenced before by campaigning by parties within area's in order to manufacture consent.[1][2][3] [4][5] (if someone feels the need to put 5 footnotes after something... you know... consider looking)

Its not wealth that is the main problem. Its not thinking for yourself. Its pretty low on your priority list to do that, if you are struggling to scrape by every day though...
And if your not, distraction is often what the remainder are susceptible to.

Government ensuring access to higher education is a great way to keep markets competitive as well, I don't know why more countries don't do it

Simple: hereditary wealth despises, loathes, hates competition: the greatest fear of rich people is to see the housemaid's or janitor's children proving more talented and hardworking that their own kids and taking their place on top of the food-chain.
And since half of the western political elites are devoted to insulate as much as possible the upper-class from competition lots of efforts are going to be made to sabotage plebeians access to education.

Nixou:

RiseUp:
Government ensuring access to higher education is a great way to keep markets competitive as well, I don't know why more countries don't do it.

Simple: hereditary wealth despises, loathes, hates competition: the greatest fear of rich people is to see the housemaid's or janitor's children proving more talented and hardworking that their own kids and taking their place on top of the food-chain.
And since half of the western political elites are devoted to insulate as much as possible the upper-class from competition lots of efforts are going to be made to sabotage plebeians access to education.

This would be called a Marxist view of society, but its by and large true. The main objective is power, or more precisely, maintaining power. Creating a system within which everyone has equal rights, freedoms and obligations, however each individual has different unequal capital with which to enter into society... it means those with more capital exploit their market position better than those with less. No real sabotaging is required... merely maintaining the Status Quo. You allow the useful to rise so they can be used and rewarded. The rest do the best they can, but are at a clear disadvantage. Any who rise from this bracket, can be used all the same. Its the system... it doesn't need a grand master.

ps, there is a quote button for a reason.

It is existing right now. The problem is economic instability brought about by financial speculation coupled with increased borrowing and spending, in turn leading to the threat of a resource crunch and pollution.

Democracy is a transitory government, it cannot even endure itself.

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