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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatPurely Politics(Moderators: bhcordova, RedHotMama, BFW) Me, Me, Me vs. We, We, We...Where's the proper balance?
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Author Topic: Me, Me, Me vs. We, We, We...Where's the proper balance?  (Read 271 times)
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Russ White

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« on: Dec 03, 2017, 07:53AM »

There was a good, off topic, discussion started in the "nothing burger" thread that is worthy of it's own forum. What is the proper role of government, and how do we get there? Governments became necessary when human civilization evolved beyond the tribal level, maybe since it evolved past the family level. What is the proper balance between the needs and rights of the individual and the needs and rights of the community as a whole, and how does a society achieve that balance? As far as my education and experience takes me, I can find no better guide for this than the US Constitution, but even it leaves so much latitude it is sometimes inadequate. What say you?
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 03, 2017, 08:32AM »

Governments are needed to protect the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority.  If left to their own devices, "Freedom of Religion" would be limited to various Baptist churches.

Government is also needed to protect the populace from unethical or unfair actions by corporations.  Back in the early 1900s there were companies selling adulterated goods as wholesome foods.  I'd bet if they could get away with it, we'd all be dead from melamine poisoning like the dogs.

One problem is that lawmakers tend not to be too savvy on technology and somebody with a good slogan can bypass good science.  Example:  We have two ratings for pollution control:  BPT (Best Practicable Technology) and BAT (Best Available Technology).  BAT may be a more complete control, but in many cases can be too expensive to implement.  We don't want to poison the water, but we also don't want to hobble our manufacturers with too much regulation.  We need agencies with technically savvy people to tread the difference.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 03, 2017, 08:52AM »

See cognitive linguist George Lakoff’s book, Political Mind.

Lakoff writes of conceptual metaphors such as A NATION IS A FAMILY, which may be viewed in terms of different frames, such as the “strict father” model (i.e. “father knows best”) or the “nurturing parent” model. I see that latter one as providing reasonable levels of guidance and support, without micro-managing or excessively constraining citizens’ independent freedom of choice and expression.

The devil is always in the details, and reconciling those two views will not be easy. Mental frames (structures of related conceptual metaphors) inhibit each other. With one in mind, others don’t make sense, or even come up.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 04, 2017, 11:30AM »

In order to live in a civilized society, there has to be a realization the "me" will give way to "we" in a utilitarian manner.  Greatest good for the greatest number.  Specifically, in America, I stand by my belief that the business of the government is to secure the rights and blessings enumerated in the Declaration and the Constitution for all its people.  That means that government regulation that infringes on "me" needs to do so in a way that makes "we" better, safer, and more able exercise our freedoms.  Requiring drivers to have insurance and adults to have valid drivers' licenses to operate a car comes to mind.

Where we screw up, at a fundamental level, is that we-oriented people include the me-oriented people as "we."  The opposite is clearly and demonstrably not true.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 06, 2017, 12:59AM »

My apologies for the tone of the last couple of posts; their substantive content I stand by, but I might have expressed it otherwise.

In any event, I don't think we differ too much in our conceptions of how a better world might be, but primarily over how best to realise it.

Peace out.

I agree with some of your critique of civil rights laws, and I'll take you at your word that you're playing devil's advocate. "Rights" and "Freedom" aren't always synonymous. We often grant people rights to take away their freedom, including the Bill of Rights.

You can't ban all forms of discrimination--a restaurant can discriminate against a person without a tie; a church can discriminate against an unwed mother. The trick is in the balance--finding the causes of discrimination where the loss of freedom is outweighed by the good accomplished by the law.

When I was a child, it was legal in much, and maybe most, of the US to explicitly discriminate on the basis of race, religion and ethnicity. You could legally say, "We don't hire blacks" or "We don't rent rooms to Mexicans" or "This property can't be sold to a Jew or a Catholic." These were not special cases, but were common.

In areas like the Southern part of the US (I don't blame you if you don't have a reference to this, because I don't know the anything about the southern part of your country), blacks were turned into a permanent underclass. They were quasi-legally lynched. As Robcat pointed out, they were forced into separate schools, which were then underfunded by the white majorities who hated them. Your idea that a market-based solution would benefit employers who broadened their talent pool fails on two levels, at least in this case--as Robcat has pointed out, even a fair-minded employee would be looking at applicants already crippled by endemic discrimination, and public opprobrium from bigoted guests would ultimately cost the employer more money than he saved by broadening his talent or customer pool.

This is an instance where the the case for creating a 'non-allowed' basis for discrimination is plain, because the harm done from it is so severe and untenable that whatever moral harm is done from the loss of freedom pursuant to the new rule is overcome by the damage it remedies.

I think you will agree that each new case has to make this same sort of judgment, and this same sort of equation. You can't require restaurants to serve loud, violent drunks as compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It may be that there's a diminishing return here--the 1965 Civil Rights Act was maybe more important than equal funding for women's sports, which was in turn more important than making people bake gay wedding cakes. We tend to knock these things down in order of importance.

The other issue I'll take with you is that these laws do not generally create 'protected groups.' The same laws that protect blacks from discrimination also protect whites, or gays and straights, or Catholics and Muslims.

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Russ White

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« Reply #5 on: Dec 06, 2017, 05:46AM »


The other issue I'll take with you is that these laws do not generally create 'protected groups.' The same laws that protect blacks from discrimination also protect whites, or gays and straights, or Catholics and Muslims.


Well, that's the way it's supposed to work, anyway. I reality, each group has had to fight on its own. Thankfully, our Founders were enlightened enough to give us our court system in support of that ideal.
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 06, 2017, 07:41AM »

Not for nothing...

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought it was about ensemble playing.

Or...maybe it is, on some level.

As above, so below.

S.
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 06, 2017, 09:09AM »

Not for nothing...

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought it was about ensemble playing.

Or...maybe it is, on some level.

As above, so below.

S.

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« Reply #8 on: Dec 06, 2017, 11:04AM »

Well, that's the way it's supposed to work, anyway. I reality, each group has had to fight on its own. Thankfully, our Founders were enlightened enough to give us our court system in support of that ideal.

My comment was a bit confusingly worded. What I mean is that civil rights laws based on race forbid discrimination against whites. Civil rights laws based on sexual orientation forbid discrimination against heterosexuals. Etc. In none of these cases is a 'protected group' created (the ADA might be one exception), but instead a basis on which one cannot discriminate. If you have a gender, or a religion, or a race, or a nationality, or an ethnicity, you are protected by civil rights laws.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 06, 2017, 11:08AM »

As I stated earlier, Government is usually needed to protect the minorities from "tyranny of the majority".  Roger Williams was banished from the Plymouth colony because he was not a member of the majority.  As a result, he founded a colony in Rhode Island dedicated to religious freedom.  At one time it had the largest Jewish congregation in the US while Massachusetts would not admit Jews.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 06, 2017, 11:29AM »

As I stated earlier, Government is usually needed to protect the minorities from "tyranny of the majority".  Roger Williams was banished from the Plymouth colony because he was not a member of the majority.  As a result, he founded a colony in Rhode Island dedicated to religious freedom.  At one time it had the largest Jewish congregation in the US while Massachusetts would not admit Jews.

That's why I said the Bill of Rights pits rights against freedom. It creates areas where the gov't can't discriminate, even with the consent of the majority, who are no longer 'free' to discriminate on those bases.

Civil rights laws simply extend those types of restrictions to businesses. It gets trickier the farther down the food chain you go (extending them to individual people gets very dicey), which was, I think, Growlerbox's point about civil rights laws. I hope he rejoins the conversation.

As a sidelight, the Bill of Rights didn't stop states from establishing official state religions, at least not for a long time.
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