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World & Current Events > Is serving the people on politicians' agenda?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Do the competing politicians intend to serve the people or is it lowest on their priority list? What do you think?


message 2: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments If politicians served the people, Republican voters wouldn't have chosen Trump as the Party's nominee...


message 3: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Politicians are there to sell the policies of people of power to the public.


message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments The objective of a politician is to get re-elected.


message 5: by GR (new)

GR Oliver | 479 comments The objective of a politician is to get a free ride. And that includes: pension, health care, perks, kick-backs for life. A complete social package at the expense of the tax payer.


message 6: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments But some still come to make a difference, to try to improve things or not?


message 7: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments GR wrote: "The objective of a politician is to get a free ride. And that includes: pension, health care, perks, kick-backs for life. A complete social package at the expense of the tax payer."

Not any more, today it's more lucrative to leverage that political office for financial gain afterwards. The Clintons supposedly left the White House dead broke, but they made a huge fortune in Bill's post presidency through speaking engagements. Obama made a fortune from his two books while in office, which he wouldn't have had he not been President. Every election cycle, Presidential candidates put out books and make a lot of money even if they go nowhere in the campaign. Senators and Representatives don't care if they get re-elected because they have lucrative jobs waiting for them as lobbyists.

They might be getting a sweet deal while in office, but these days those offices have become the springboard for something sweeter.


message 8: by Anita (new)

Anita (neet413) | 78 comments “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
― Thomas Jefferson


message 9: by Anita (new)

Anita (neet413) | 78 comments Politicians have 2 goals:

1. Getting elected.
2. Getting re-elected.

That's it. The will and wants of the people are a very distant third.


message 10: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Hi Anita and welcome!

Nice and relevant quote-:)


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 213 comments All of the above :) But I think it's worthwhile looking at why that is so. IMO it's all about motivation & reward and the way our political, business, and financial systems are geared to incent certain behavior.

Senior political positions provide extremely lucrative personal rewards, so they will attract people who are most motivated by personal gain. On the other hand, people who genuinely want to help ordinary citizens can see that the opportunities for doing so are extremely limited, especially in the bitterly polarized political scene in the US these days.

Then in order to get into office you need votes, the backing of a major party, and high visibility. The mechanisms for voting people into office actively reward dirty behavior. It's not about your policies or what good you can do for people, it's all about tearing your opponents down because those are the tactics that now provide the greatest return in terms of votes.

The upshot is that - although there are rare exceptions - the only people who both want senior office and who are prepared to do what it takes to get there are extremely rich, ruthless, and in it for themselves.

That's my (albeit simplistic) analysis, sad though it is. If we want to change things, we need to change our systems so that different kinds of behaviors get rewarded.


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Agree that all the filth surrounding politics drives away many worthy people from the process and rewards those who feel natural in the murky ambience...
Although there are systems where parties attract popular personalities from the outside and give them high and sometimes leading places in the hope their brand and popularity will bring votes. Theoretically such 'outsiders' shall have less questionable reputation.. Not sure it stays this way though long after coming aboad ...


message 13: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments It is arguable that things don't change that much. While being President of the US means plenty of money afterwards from speaking tours, etc, it is not unique. In the Res Publica, the whole point for most to try to be Consul was because at the end of the 1 year term they were given governorships of areas from which they could make personal fortunes. Of course they had to be fairly rich in the first place to get to be Consul but that hardly stopped them wanting more. However, I really doubt Trump wants t be President for the opportunities to make money, because ehe knows a lot of better ways. I suspect deep down it is the same as Roman times: seeking imperium - power over others.


message 14: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan The thing to remember about career politicians is that they are self appointed primates with opposable thumbs.


message 15: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kuhn (kevinkuhn) | 45 comments Well said Ian.


message 16: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy "Someone who hates one group will end up hating everyone - and, ultimately, hating himself or herself."--Elie Wiesel

This unabated hatred we keep promoting in America against all politicians is doing more harm than good in my view. I know people now, both young and old, who are just consumed with an absolute loathing of government. I don't get it, but I'm very thankful I was raised by a father who never took me down that path.


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Promotion of 'hating' and 'loathing' is not a good thing, but both politicians and governments deserve a good deal of criticism and a reminder about their supposed mission, purpose and service


message 18: by Jimmy (last edited Oct 26, 2016 08:13AM) (new)

Jimmy When you do that, Nik, you lump them all in together.

I always give as an example Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. She has been a dedicated public servant for many years. When she was governor, I will never forget when she came to my GED class and encouraged my students in night school. These kids were dropouts who never voted and offered nothing in return to her, but there she was. A great woman, and a great politician.

Supposed I said to you, "I hate schools. I hate kids. But I want to teach your children." That's what's happening in the Republican party. They have promoted hatred of government and politicians and have been a negative force. They win elections on being negative. The result, in my view, is a disaster for the country. And it's too late for them to backtrack on the result: Donald Trump.

To convince me, you have to provide more specifics. Not all of "Congress" is responsible.


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments The issue here is cognitive dissonance.

Politicians believe they are serving the people, when in actuality they are not. They truly have a warped sense of public service.

I was involved in politics years ago (25 yrs). I ran campaigns, ran for office myself, worked with and was friends with the former Governor of NJ. I got to meet many other politicians, including Bill & Hillary Clinton.

The one constant, Democratic or Republican, is that they believe they are elected to make decisions for us, because we dont know any better. I once had a conversation with a sitting US Senator from a small northeast state about why he voted for the war in Iraq when almost 70% of his constituents were against our involvement.

His answer, they didnt fully understand the issue. He was elected to understand and to make the choice he best believed in, not what his constituents believed in. In essence, they were too dumb to know the right thing to do. So it was his superior intellect and decision making abilities that should rule.

Nothing has changed in 25 yrs. Here's a new Gallup poll...

http://www.gallup.com/poll/185918/maj...

If you go back 200 years, its still probably the same. And in 200 yrs in probably wont change.

Its why your vote doesnt count, has never counted and never will.


message 20: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Jimmy wrote: "When you do that, Nik, you lump them all in together.

I always give as an example Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. She has been a dedicated public servant for many years. When she was gov..."


But then let's not lump together all dems and reps, right? -:)
I'm sure there are excellent individual examples among certain republicans as there are among democrats. I certainly hate neither -:) The polls that Michael brings show how skeptical people are about the US Congress and there is similar disbelief in many other countries. The answers of the members above reflect the same. Maybe the system itself requires some improvements?


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments Michael stirred up an unfortunate memory for me. Once upon a time I got involved in politics as well, and did the usual leg work, etc, but I also got involved with policy formation. One of my concerns was inequality - trickle down was simply not working then (and still isn't) so I came up with a policy: an optional tax. Once over a certain level of income, an optional tax cut in. The options were, pay Inland Revenue, OR invest in approved new businesses. The approved part was simply to eliminate scams, and to show the investment was genuinely being made to create economic growth and was not paper shuffling. Now, obviously there were details about that part that we needn't go into now, but this sank like a lead balloon. Why? From the wealthy side, we don't care. We're fine. From the other side, even more curiously they were vehemently against it. Why? The rich might even get richer. The fact they would have to earn the right to get richer seemed beyond their comprehension. The politicians there made a summing up that said nothing, other than they did not want to irritate anyone and they had no concept at all what was being said. And these people think they have intellect??? Come of it.


message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Well said Michael and Ian.

Everytime I hear someone else claim they can make better decisions about my life than I can I barf.


message 23: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments Michael wrote: "He was elected to understand and to make the choice he best believed in, not what his constituents believed in. ..."

This is so true and yet I just don't know where to begin. We elect our congressmen to give a voice to our state and the people within that state. To an extent we select one party or another because the majority of voters support the platform, but end of the day, these people are supposed to influence the federal government in a way that best serves their state.

In NC, the Republican incumbent ran one ad with a clip of his challenger saying something like "I'm running to fight for children of the whole country." His intent was to show hypocrisy between her words and actions, but I heard that all I'm thinking is "No, you're running to fight for children of this state! Other states have their own Senators to fight for their people and we're not electing any congressman to fight for other states unless our interests align.


message 24: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Michael wrote: "His answer, they didnt fully understand the issue. He was elected to understand and to make the choice he best believed in, not what his constituents believed in. In essence, they were too dumb to know the right thing to do. So it was his superior intellect and decision making abilities that should rule. ..."

The same logic may underlie the 'trickle down' idea. Why help laymen? If you give them more money they'd spend it on booze and waste. Lets help those at the top, assuming they'd know how to better use the money. Very patronizing...


message 25: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Ian wrote: "Michael stirred up an unfortunate memory for me. Once upon a time I got involved in politics as well, and did the usual leg work, etc, but I also got involved with policy formation. One of my conce..."

I like your idea, Ian! The cap, that I think is beneficial, is aimed to achieve the same - to route the 'excess' money that is unlikely ever to be used to where it's needed and likely to result in something productive..
But, of course... It sounds absurd, but it's only logical, if you look deeper, that those who already way beyond covering their immediate needs is concerned with grander things and those among them, who are not too greedy, actually much more willing to part with the money. Thus you have the idea of Giving pledge floating among some billionaires and some NY millionaires asking to raise tax on them.
While those 'aspiring' see any such suggestion as an encroachment on their titanic effort.... Plus, some people evaluate much more optimistically their own prospects, where they would get. The sobering effect triggers for some the middle life crisis...


message 26: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments Thanks, Nik. Perhaps somehow I should work something like that into my next novel. I am just about to compile my latest WIP, so I need something to start the next one. Not quite sure how I can make that exciting, but that is half the problem with plotting :-)


message 27: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments Nik wrote: "The same logic may underlie the 'trickle down' idea. Why help laymen? If you give them more money they'd spend it on booze and waste. Lets help those at the top, assuming they'd know how to better use the money. Very patronizing... "

I dont agree. I dont know if I agree with trickle down but I dont agree with redistributing wealth is the right idea either.

I believe that there are risk takers and security lovers. You give a $1 to a risk taker, he/she is going to figure out how to turn that $1 into $2. A security lover is going to put that $1 into his/her pocket and keep it for a rainy day.

The people at the top are mostly risk takers. Thats why they are at the top. Or should I say successful risk takers. The security lovers and unsuccessful risk takers are at the bottom. I'd still rather give $1 of my last $3 to a unsuccessful risk taker than a security lover. At least with the risk taker I have a chance to profit off of the $1... the security lover - that $1 is gone forever or until they are forced to spend it on necessities.

Money and incentives should flow to those that will create with it. If paint were money, would you make sure Van Gogh had paint or the preschool at the end of your block ?


message 28: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments The people at the top are risk takers, and also energetic and successful, but also lucky. For every such success, there are a number of less successful ones. The problem for me is that those at the bottom haven't got the means to even start taking risks that would lead to economic gain (apart from crime), and I am not sure that we should punish those who don't take excessive risks.

I think the key is energy. I think those that are energetic should be helped because then when they succeed at a lesser level, at least the world is a better place.


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Michael wrote: "Money and incentives should flow to those that will create with it...."

I assume security lovers and risk takers are equally good and worthy people and both need money at least to survive. Moreover, they are interchangeable. The successful risk taker tend to stash away all excess money and at a high level may not ever use it, even if because of time constraints, while security lovers may still be forced to take risks. I think the assumption that a risk taker will ever use the money for creation, while a saver will put them under pillow is too simplistic.
I argue - those who succeed - don't need any help, because they succeed anyway, so for what? Those who don't succeed (doesn't matter whether a risk taker or security fan), but make reasonable efforts shouldn't be left to die and more so - their kids, as they are equally good people. I'm a lesser fan of 'A man is a wolf to another man' philosophy.
There is enough paint for Van Gogh and preschool, but I like the example-:) If Van Gogh has much more paint that he'd ever be able to use, even if he painted 26 hours a day until his last day, wouldn't it be better to ask him to distribute the excess?


message 30: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments Ian wrote: "The people at the top are risk takers, and also energetic and successful, but also lucky. For every such success, there are a number of less successful ones. The problem for me is that those at the..."

The deck is sure stacked, but at least in the US, there are opportunities. How many rappers came from the ghettos? How many NBA and NFL stars began their lives in poverty? A lot of us here are indie writers, so what's stopping anyone from writing their own book and putting it up?

The thing is it's hard. Those who do lift themselves up had to work at it, but people are generally averse to work. It is always easier to blame immigrants, or the white man, or the rich, or whoever one's particular boogy man might be.

Not to say it should be entirely dog-eat-dog. As much as I myself believe in limited regulation, some safeguards do need to be put/left in place to ensure that abuses are prevented instead of dealt with after the damage has been done. If we want to be a society of opportunity, then we have to make sure opportunity is available to all, and politicians on the right who run on opportunity need to stop supporting efforts intended to block opportunity to certain groups.


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments J.J., I am largely in a agreement. At the moment, the highest paid sportsman from NZ is actually in the NBA (hence then money) and he came from a poor background, and he could just as well have ended up on the wrong side of the legal system. On the other hand, he is 7 foot tall, which is some sort of advantage in the NBA.
I think most people do get opportunities, and I also think success depends to quite an extent on luck, but the key to success is persisting. If you keep trying, sooner or later luck will come your way. Maybe not in huge chunks, but adequate.
One of the things that bothers me is that the established can arrange for regulations that protect them. The right seems to require user pays, and if there are enough regulations and enough silly inspections at ridiculous costs, the small business just runs out of steam.


message 32: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 152 comments It's a sad indictment on America that, out of the whole country, Trump and Clinton are the best candidates they could field. To start with, both of them are too old for the job.

Politics is no different in Australia, most Prime Ministers are there to feed their own egos and have little interest in their country's interests. Instead of staying home and running Australia they want to strut the world stage and give away our hard-earned rights and money. Meanwhile they steal money from part-pensioners. The retrospective changes to our income and assets test due on 1 January 2017 will see many lose all or most of their part-pension.


message 33: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin So, Rita, what would you think of our fresh, young Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau? Not too many heads of governments around the World can say that they formed a governing cabinet in which half the ministers are female and in which you can find aborigines and physically handicapped persons.


message 34: by Nik (last edited Nov 02, 2016 03:16AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Don't know deeply Trudeau's platform or opinions, but remember being impressed by his ability to explain quantum computing -:). Prima facia makes good impression


message 35: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 152 comments Michel wrote: "So, Rita, what would you think of our fresh, young Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau? Not too many heads of governments around the World can say that they formed a governing cabinet in which ..."

I guess we'll have to wait and see how Trudeau's cabinet performs, Michael. I believe in the best person for the job, regardless of gender or physical condition. It is nice to see someone younger taking the reins but history will be the judge!


message 36: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments Rita wrote: "To start with, both of them are too old for the job. ..."

Some would call them old, others would call them "experienced." :D

I kind of agree though. Part of me was rooting for Cruz or Rubio to take the nomination just so we'd see the torch pass from the Baby boomers to Gen-X. Something tells me my generation is going to be passed over for the White House when the first Millennials meet the age requirement.


message 37: by Vance (new)

Vance Huxley | 63 comments Why do people still believe giving everyone a vote is the best idea? Most people haven't a blind idea what they really want, let alone what's good for the rest. Worse, they listen to the lies and garbage from someone who knows exactly what he or she wants, and give them the job.
The best idea is a bloke with a sword to make the laws, and a couple of hundred guys with spears to back him up.
Damn, tried that in 1066. Back to the drawing board. :-)

At school in the 60s we had a mock election. When the real election came along, the percentage of votes for each of the three major parties (UK) were exactly the same as in the school one. Most of us have political views imbibed with our mother's milk (even if it's rejection). How many real swing voters are there? Very few, which means a tiny minority chooses the leaders, not the majorities.

I'm half convinced all political leaders should be chosen by lottery - we might get more good ones and they sure as hell wouldn't be part of a 'machine' or 'dynasty.'


message 38: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Vance wrote: "How many real swing voters are there? Very few, which means a tiny minority chooses the leaders, not the majorities.

I'm half convinced all political leaders should be chosen by lottery - we might get more good ones and they sure as hell wouldn't be part of a 'machine' or 'dynasty.' ..."


Yeah, a lot of people vote 'traditionally', yet 'swingers' are there. But that's like in many other things in life. 80 or so per cent will use Gillette all their lives, complaining how expensive the cartridges are, while 20% will look for cheaper options. Most go with 'brand' authors or best-sellers, fewer experiment with something less familiar. If the change comes, it's from those a little more flexible and experimenting, that can put behind themselves a bigger amorphous crowd.
With lottery we'll lack elections show and businessmen won't know what to do with the excess of funds - may result in further increase of off-shore capital -:)


message 39: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 282 comments Anita wrote: "Politicians have 2 goals:

1. Getting elected.
2. Getting re-elected.

That's it. The will and wants of the people are a very distant third."


I do wish I could disagree with you.


message 40: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 282 comments Nik wrote: "Vance wrote: "How many real swing voters are there? Very few, which means a tiny minority chooses the leaders, not the majorities.

I'm half convinced all political leaders should be chosen by lott..."


Our real problem may indeed be because of how few of those "swingers" there are and the fact that, because of that, it is possible to frame the political agenda very narrowly, excluding the concerns of those who aren't in the marginal group. Before long there is a body politic so alienated from the political establishment that it will lash out in order to damage it. That is what happened in both Britain and the US in 2016. For what it's worth, I've gone into this in detail in this post: http://mikerobbinsnyc.blogspot.com/20... ...and also in my recent publication Such Little Accident: British Democracy and Its Enemies. But to me the argument is fairly self-evident anyway.


message 41: by Nik (last edited Dec 18, 2016 01:00AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Read the blog post with interest. Agree that electoral systems or even a governmental architecture in general have considerable deficiencies.
On a side note wonder whether compulsory voting makes any difference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compuls...


message 42: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments For what it is worth, Australia has compulsory voting, and I am far from convinced they regard their government with any more reverence than we do. Mind you, "we" does not include those who elected Trump :-)


message 43: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Whom politicians serve or represent?
a) themselves
b) their sponsors
c) electorate
d) entire nation
e) combination of some of the above
What do you think?


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments I regard most of them as serving themselves, however there are these pesky voters, and they have to at least pretend to be serving them, accordingly they will go around trying to do things for the electorate when (a) they are easy to do, and especially (b) there is publicity in it for them. There are a few who actually want to achieve something for the nation. This last lot can be a problem because they think they know what the nation needs. When they are wrong, disaster looms.


message 45: by Holly (new)

Holly (goldikova) There are politicians who want to serve the people. In the US we call them "Third party candidates". I can guarantee that any member of either the Democratic or Republican parties have no intention of doing anything other than serving themselves.


message 46: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments I'm not sure about that. Bernie seemed pretty selfless. Or maybe that was an illusion.


message 47: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Well, many in the Democratic Party think that Bernie is too much on the left to be a true democrat. In Canada, he would be rated as a middle of the road Liberal. I can see how many Americans would qualify members of the socialist NDP (rabid communists maybe?). All this is to say that political qualifiers can be very subjective according to which point of view you use.


message 48: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments Yet Bernie ran as a Democrat, not a third-party candidate.


message 49: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 104 comments Politicians never serve the people. How can they when they see them as suckers pleading to be fleeced and abused? Sponsors? They get more attention, perhaps they jump a bit higher and put more energy into pretending they are listening, but they don't "serve" them either. The only people they serve are themselves. And they treat the world to their Grand Performance when they get caught.

None of that matters. We all still vote. lol


message 50: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5791 comments I often feel helpless and hopeless. I wonder if others feel the same.


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