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United States News

In Nothing We Trust 910

Hugh Pickens writes "Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton write in the National Journal that seven in 10 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, only 23 percent have confidence in banks, and just 19 percent have confidence in big business. Less than half the population expresses "a great deal" of confidence in the public-school system or organized religion. 'We have lost our gods,' says Laura Hansen. 'We've lost it—that basic sense of trust and confidence—in everything.' Humans are coded to create communities, and communities beget institutions. What if, in the future, they don't? People could disconnect, refocus inward, and turn away from their social contract. Already, many are losing trust. If society can't promise benefits for joining it, its members may no longer feel bound to follow its rules. But history reminds us that America's leaders can draw the nation together to solve problems. At a moment of gaping income inequality, when the country was turbulently transitioning from a farm economy to a factory one, President Theodore Roosevelt reminded Americans, 'To us, as a people, it has been granted to lay the foundations of our national life.' At the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt chastised the business and political leaders who had led the country into ruin. 'These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men,' said FDR. 'Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.'"
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In Nothing We Trust

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  • Re:Why is this here? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:30AM (#39771491)

    But Slashdot is losing traffic for years now. []

    Most of you guys wouldn't believe how popular this site was 12 years ago. I used to keep a browser window open 24/7 with Slashdot in it. Today I come here maybe once every 2 days and still see it as a waste of time.

    The end of Slashdot started with this article: here []

    "Normally I wouldn't consider posting this on Slashdot, but I'm making an exception this time"

    Well that exception is lasting for 11 years now. And most moderators here have absolutely no clue about technology.

    It took them 3 days to learn who Dennis Ritchie was and that he had died.

    Just sad. I do have a 5 digit account and post as anonymous because I don't care anymore.

  • Scared Politicians (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:32AM (#39771521)

    I'm a US citizen and have voted in every major election since 1984.
    I come from a US military family. Dad was a pilot in the USAF.
    I'm a law-in-order guy.

    I really disliked the made up invasion of Iraq, but I didn't speak out at the time. For that, I am sorry. Invading Afghanistan did make sense, but now we need to leave to let them deal with their own issues. They want our help (money), but aren't interested in our education bias and beliefs that women/girls are just as equal as men/boys. That is a long held culture/religious belief. We aren't going to change it in 10 years. Good enough - we need to take our money and leave. Until the citizens of Afghanistan choose to change, we can't help or get our wish list.

    I really dislike the government watching everything in the name of preventing terrorists acts. Monitoring telephone, Internet traffic for everyone without a court order is bad. Any organization doing it needs to be held accountable to the fullest extent of law. FBI, NSA, telecommunications companies and even google, twitter, facebook, etc. - there are thousands of other companies doing this.

    I really dislike having the freedom to travel impacted by organizations who are trying to prevent every possible failure from happening. It is a lost cause and the impact to our society is 100x worse than a few downed planes. The terrorists have already won since we sheep have given up so much of our freedoms. I say that everyone should be allowed to carry a 12inch knife blade on an aircraft if they like. I bet we are more polite.

    President Bush started this out of fear. A scared country like the USA is bad for the entire world. We need to be open and honest, not secretive. Our welcome to all visitors was our main strength.

    President Obama has been scared into retaining AND expanding the monitoring, watching, surveillance, and he's left his promises behind. It is sad. Our elected officials don't stand for freedom anymore.

    Being afraid of what might happen is foolish. Our minds can come up with millions of terrible scenarios. That is not a waste of time for a small group of experts, but the rest of the country needs to not be impacted.

    Don't get me started about religious beliefs that are harmful to entire segments of our population. Religion has no place in US politics. That goes for abortion, science books and gay marriages. Whether religion makes sense in other countries like Iraq or Afghanistan is not my concern.

    In the next Presidential election, there isn't any candidate who I can vote for with a clear conscience. This is sad.

    I will vote for the least scared politician.

  • So, does this mean (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:33AM (#39771539) Homepage Journal
    It's time to refresh the tree of liberty?
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:41AM (#39771681)

    Actually the reason the EU is Not working is because of too much centralization. If they had never created the central bank, their equivalent to our Fed, and kept separate currencies, the EU would be in fantastic shape. The EU downfall is the same as our downfall - the damn bankers borrowing too much credit with nothing to back it up, and then printing money likes nuts to keep the edifice from collapsing (thus destroying the savings of the people).

    Oh and one final thought: The fundamental basis of our Constitution, to quote the man who wrote it, is that the powers of the Congress are FEW and defined, while the powers of the Member States are many. It was always intended to be a union of strong states with most of the power close to the people, rather than ~1500 miles distant..... and last time I checked the 10th amendment was not repealed, so that is still true today.

  • Re:And yet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:47AM (#39771789)

    Somebody asked me why I posted a fake birthday on my profile. I said I don't want my data publicly posted and available to Facebook, google, and other advertisers, so almost everything on my profile is fake or deliberately left blank (except my name/school). That person told me I shouldn't be lying to people. (sigh) They just don't understand how data is being collected and sold, not just by corporations but also the DHS.

  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <> on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:51AM (#39771857) Homepage

    'Kyklos', meaning 'cycle' in Greek, describes the course of human political systems. In the days of the ancient Greeks the Kyklos was said to take the form of Anarchy->Monarchy->Aristocracy->Oligarchy->Democracy->Anarchy. No matter where on the cycle you start, human nature takes over and tames Anarchy, corrupts Aristocrats, steals power from the Oligarchy, and dissolves Democracy back into Anarchy again.

    I'm not sure the old Kyklos works in the modern day, however. It seems to me that we started with Democracy, formed an Aristocracy out of that which has now corrupted into an Oligarchy. With people losing faith in the institutions of the Oligarchy (and thanks to the internet, able to spread their dissent and doubts), we may be headed toward Anarchy now. Or the internet may allow some leader to leverage his charisma and steer us into Monarchy. Either way, Democracy is long done and people have good reasons to worry about the future of America.

  • Re:money is your god (Score:2, Interesting)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @12:13PM (#39772189)

    "Money has replaced God, even in churches where the preacher stands in a 1000 dollar suit asking for cash"

    That presumes it was ever different. (History, read it. Faith, question it and require proof instead.)

    Religionists are famed for their greed for power and wealth throughout history. Even a Crusader wearing a hair shirt under his armor didn't hesitate to butcher those who were obstacles to Papal lust for power.

    Now it is safer to question the witch doctors (unless one is Muslim, they still kill apostates) so more people do so. There is no god. _Prove_ your Sky Fairie exists right fucking now and I'll recant and bend my knee before him/her/it's Noodly Appendage.

  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @12:17PM (#39772243)

    He aims for real campaign finance reform, real healthcare reform, and prosecuting corporate and governmental law-breakers.

    Which is why you haven't seen him on any major news outlet in the past few months other than Al Jazeera. It's not just politicians who like the status quo. Reduce the amount corporations can spend on politicians and you reduce the amount politicians can spend on advertising.

  • Re:I trust (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @12:50PM (#39772773)

    It's true, though. It is a form of slavery, and hand-waving "compassion" over it doesn't change that fact. It would be better if you'd just call a spade a spade and say "You know what? Fuck you. You will pay for medical care whether you want to or not. You will pay for emergency services. You will pay for these roads. You will pay for the education of your fellow citizens. You don't have to like it, you can cry about it and even vote to change the amounts, but these are things we, as civilized people, accept as necessary to keep society civil, reasonable, and advancing. If you want to cry about being treated as a child, then stop acting like a child."

    In the best-case scenario, these people would go find a gulch and jump off it.

  • Re:Thanks, media (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @12:55PM (#39772861)

    I completely disagree with you on the types of indoctrination. I see the following lies being taught:

    The government will take care of you
    If you fail, it's society's fault.
    If it's not society's fault, it's your competitor's fault.
    If it's not your competitor's fault, it's the government's fault for not taking care of you.
    It's NEVER your fault, because you are a unique snowflake who is entitled to all the riches in the universe, given to you by the government
    The rich got where they are not by creating wealth for themselves, but by taking it away from others - despite the fact that those others are more prosperous as well

    Community is tribal behavior, which hurts the individual for the sake of the group. If the group then benefits individuals, then that's the way it's supposed to work, but when those groups feed off of individuals to benefit themselves as though the group is the ends and not the means, as is the case with government and many churches, then it's time for those individuals to leave the group. The solution is to break out of the shackles of 'community' and embrace individualism - only there can we be truly free. Once free, those individuals can re-form institutions, free from corruption (for a while anyway).

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:12PM (#39773035) Homepage

    I have a different opinion than most of the posters here on the problem with the U.S. policy machine and electorate right now. I think it has to do with the ideology of unity, i.e. that we are the "United" States of America, that we are basically all the same, that we share interests and goals, that we are all in this together.

    This is untrue, but here and elsewhere, I see no national awareness on the part of the political machine or the electorate that there is basically no unity and no way to achieve it. If we could all acknowledge that, there would be an understanding of the need for compromise.

    Instead, over and over again I see people assuming that their understanding of what is wrong is shared by virtually everyone, and that if virtually everyone knows what's wrong but it hasn't been fixed yet, it must be because of those "other" people that are in the minority but that are somehow pulling the strings in "today's America" and are somehow corrupt/oppressive/dangerous/evil.

    Just in this discussion I see people saying that the problem is obviously:

    Franklin Delanor Roosevelt
    The Welfare State
    The end of religion
    The pill
    The wrong understanding of God
    Selfish banks
    Selfish politicians
    Selfish media
    Poor public education
    Global overpopulation
    Technological malaise
    An active sense of entitlement
    An overly passive population
    Centralized government
    The absence of an external threat
    The decline of the family
    The decline of values
    and so on.

    And each presents the argument as if it's authoritative. And many seem to imply that there is some kind of majority involved ("More and more countries..." "The American public..." "we this..." "we that...")

    The framing in terms of "we" or in phrases that imply a majority place everyone that disagrees outside of a presumed collective. I see this on both sides of the political aisle right now. In 2011 I lived both in New York City (very liberal) and in Utah (very conservative) and both populations have the same certainty, with a different focus.

    For the New Yorkers in lower Manhattan, it's obvious that America has had it with a tiny minority of crazy conservatives trying to destroy the nation, and if Obama doesn't win the next election, it's because this minority has stolen it from the American people. For the Utahns, it's obvious that America has had it with a tiny minority of crazy socialists trying to turn America into the Soviet Union with Islamist tendencies, and if Obama wins the next election, it's because this minority has stolen it from the American people.

    Both refer to American values and American history constantly, but totally different versions of these.

    There is limited or no understanding that monotheism and polytheism and atheism are all American values, that black slaves and white colonialists and native tribes are all "founding members" of our present society in some way, that the populace includes sizable blocks of both highly conservative pro-life, pro-national religion, anti-feminist, anti-immigrant libertarians and highly socially liberal pro-choice, pro-secularism, pro-feminist pro-immigration social democrats, and everything in between.

    Somehow the "melting pot narrative" has broken down and the Utahns imagine that "most Americans" drive a truck, own horses, have a rifle under their seat, and are married with children and mom staying at home while dad plays provider, while the lower Manhattanites know that "most Americans" take public transportation, are more and more concerned with global warming and local green economies, are down on cars and big oil and guns, and are living in "alternative" family situations to that "traditional narrative that was never representative anyway."

    When told about the other side by me, people in both groups had the tendency to say about the other that "those people just c

  • Re:I trust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:54PM (#39773623)

    The problem with libertarianism is that it only curtains the power of government. It gives by default even more power to corporates to run he world. And they have no morality nor any desire to make the world a better place. Only to enrich themselves at the people's expense. It's an out of the frying pan into the fire philosophy.

  • Re:I trust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bigby ( 659157 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @02:19PM (#39773963)

    The Libertarian ideal is:

    1. You have a right to life.
    2. You have a right to do what you want.
    3. You have a right to your affects/property.
    X. No one can infringe on someone else's rights by "force or fraud".

    This doesn't mean "wipe every regulation off the books". A significant number, yes. However, it also means allowing people to sue others for pollution...even air pollution.

    A Libertarian isn't against the idea of taxing. They are against spending by Central Government beyond what is outlined above, and therefore don't like being taxed to cover the "other stuff". A Libertarian is more accepting of certain taxes over others though.

    A Libertarian is against anything that favors a group of people over another group of people. Any kind of collectivism is generally considered bad. So giving welfare to a welfare class isn't optimal. Although not Libertarian, it would be more accepting to just give everyone, poor or rich, a check to cover basic food/shelter/medical services. See Milton Friedman's acceptance of the idea of a Basic Income. It is more accepting because it doesn't favor a certain group of people, there is no means test, and there is still an incentive to work. Right now, someone on welfare, if they start working, could actually make less money.

    A Libertarian would argue that it isn't society's responsibility to favor certain people (the poor). That is the job of the people through charity. I am more in favor of a Basic Income concept, but scared as hell of the slippery slope it would cause. Just have some supreme unchangeable law that the money is computed based on the price of rice, beans, water, group housing, and sensible medical care.

    Example of regulation to not keep. Get rid of the SEC and the idea of "public companies". All companies should be private and if they want to expose themselves to investors, join a private exchange that regulates its members. Get rid of regulating alcohol, drugs, weapons, transportation, etc... Never prohibit; just educate. Make all drugs (and all things) provide full disclaimers in standardized way. Maybe a website of product information and comparables.

    Don't ban certain light bulbs and toilets. Don't force cars to have black boxes. Don't build roads (subsidizing a mode of transportation) that aren't offset by tolls. I could go on...

    You might bring up regulation on nuclear power. A regulation I would accept is that anything that could cause an individual to go bankrupt would have to be insured. This includes car liability insurance. Make every pay now and provide an incentive for them to take the precautionary measures to lower their premiums...maybe to the point where something like nuclear power becomes economically feasible (which it wouldn't be right now if they had to insure against meltdowns).

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson