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Sep-30-2009 23:07printcomments

How Capitalism Destroyed American Democracy: Part 2 (of 3)

Ding! Americans do not live in a democracy but a plutocracy. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Upsidedown American flag

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Item: “When you think of Bush and his team, it's hard to believe so much harm could be done to so many by so few. (H. D. S. Greenway in the Boston Globe)

Item: “No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.” (P. J. O’Rourke)

Item: “Our current political systems seem to have created a decision making whole that actually in many ways is stupider than any one individual. …You get us all together collectively , and you look at something like what we’re doing with our carbon-dioxide output, and we’re acting about as smart as protozoa. We’re pooping up our environment and poisoning ourselves.” (Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director, University of Toronto Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies)

Item: “When we look back over the past eight thousand years, it is clear that the most irritating characteristic of human beings is their passivity. The mass of people accept whatever happens to them as cows accept the rain.” (Colin Wilson in A Criminal History of Mankind)

Part 2

In Part 1 (see: How Capitalism Destroyed American Democracy: Part 1 - Daniel Johnson, I reviewed Vance Packard’s 1960 book The Waste Makers. I argued that any appearance of democracy in North America has been nullified and undermined by the twin capitalist idols of growth and consumption.

Many, if not most Americans, believe that growth and consumption are good things . But Packard noted that US oil consumption had tripled in the fifteen years since end of WW II. “With only one seventh proved reserves, the US is consuming more than half the world’s production.” The imbalance has increased through the years and even the oil shocks of the 1970s did nothing to wake up the American people. The immoral result is that Americans are so rich because so many others in the world are poor. But Americans can’t feel smug. The same wealth imbalance exists within their own country. Says Thomas Homer-Dixon,

“We really need to start thinking hard about how our societies—especially those that are already very rich—can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth.”

In December 2006, a UN study found that the richest 2 percent of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. When Reagan began his presidency in 1980, US CEOs received 43 times what the average worker made.By 2005, CEOs earned 411 times as much.

What is democracy?

The fundamental ethic behind democracy is co-operation.

The fundamental ethic behind capitalism is greed.

Don’t be fooled. Greed and self-interest are not the same thing. Adam Smith promoted self-interest as a positive social and human motivation; greed, on the other hand, he vilified.

Ergo: Greed and cooperation are like oil and water; they don’t mix, and they never will!

Theory of democracy

Democracy is, literally, rule by the people; the concept formally originating in Greece, 25 centuries ago. The American people, believing they have reached the pinnacle of democracy, that shining light on the hill, are a people either significantly brainwashed, or severely deluded. I believe it to be the former.

In the movie “The American President”, Michael Douglas is president (this is before Martin Sheen captured the nomination), and he is being outrageously attacked but he doesn’t respond, avoiding what he says is a character debate.

His aid, Michael J. Fox, tells him his numbers are sliding because he is not talking back. At the conclusion of the argument, Fox says: The people “want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage. And when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.” Douglas replied that “they don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.

The fundamental questions in the establishment of a democracy says Yale political scientist emeritus Robert A .Dahl are:

1. What is the appropriate unit or association within which a democratic government should be established? A town? A city? A country?

2. Once the organizational unit has been established, who among its members should constitute the demos?

3. What organizations should be established to allow the people to govern?

4. When there are differences of opinion (policy), as there inevitably will be, who should prevail and under what circumstances?

5. Assuming majority rule, what should a majority look like?

But a basic question preceding all these is: Why should the people rule? Is democracy really better than aristocracy or monarchy?

Overall, says Dahl, “a minimum condition for the continued existence of a democracy is that a substantial proportion of both the demos [the people] and the leadership believes that popular government is better than any feasible alternative.” This belief is widely held in America, but is so contradicted by reality, that the result is not democracy at all, but kakistocracy—rule by the worst.

In the 19th century Charles Darwin revolutionalized the life sciences with his theory of evolution by natural selection. The response of religionists today is to look at the world and say—could this all have come about by accident? Their answer is called Intelligent Design.

Similarly, we can look at our social and economic world and ask: Could it have come about from Democratic Design? That is, is the America of today a polity that has been democratically selected?

The origins of democracy

Small, early groups of people, tribes, naturally fell into democratic-like ways provided the group was sufficiently independent of control by outsiders to permit members to run their own affairs. This assumption has been supported by studies of non-literate tribal societies, which suggest that democratic government existed among many tribal groups during the thousands of years when human beings survived by hunting and gathering. It was probably the most “natural” of political systems.

When the lengthy period of hunting and gathering ended and humans began to settle in fixed communities, primarily for agriculture and trade, the conditions that favoured popular participation in government seem to have become more rare. Greater inequalities in wealth and military power between communities, together with a marked increase in the typical community's size and scale, encouraged the spread of hierarchical and authoritarian forms of social organization. As a result, popular governments among settled peoples vanished, to be replaced for thousands of years by governments based on monarchy, despotism, aristocracy, or oligarchy, each of which came to be seen—at least among the dominant members of these societies—as the most natural form of government.

Then, about 500 B. C. E. conditions favourable to democracy reappeared in several locales, and a few small groups began to create popular governments. Primitive democracy, one might say, was reinvented in more advanced forms; The most crucial developments occurred in two areas of the Mediterranean, Greece and Rome.

During the Classical period (corresponding roughly to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.E.), Greece was not a country in the modern sense, but a collection of several hundred independent city-states, each with its surrounding countryside. In 507 B.C.E., under the leadership of Cleisthenes, the citizens of Athens began to develop a system of popular rule that would last nearly two centuries. To question (1), then, the Greeks responded clearly: The political association most appropriate to democratic government is the polis, or city-state.

But what democracy is, is not a settled issue says Dahl: “In political theory, democracy describes a small number of related forms of government and also a political philosophy. Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes, equality and freedom. These principles are reflected by all citizens being equal before the law, and having equal access to power. Additionally, all citizens are able to enjoy legitimized freedoms and liberties, which are usually protected by a constitution.”

Equality before the law and equal access to power are, I think, the key aspects of any democracy.

The democracy of inequality

Marquis de Condorcet

The 18th century philosopher Marquis de Condorcet said: “It is easy to prove that wealth has a natural tendency to equality, and that any excessive disproportion could not exist, or at least would rapidly disappear, if civil laws did not provide artificial ways of perpetuating and uniting fortunes…” The built in biases in the law is the fundamental problem in modern democracy.

In his book Capitalism and Freedom conservative Nobel economist Milton Friedman argued that “a central element in the development of collectivist sentiment…has been a belief in equality as a social goal and a willingness to use the arm of the state to promote it.” What, he asked, is the justification for state intervention? “The ethical principle that would directly justify the distribution of income in a free market is, ‘To each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.’ The operation of even this principle implicitly depends on state action. Property rights are matters of law and social convention. As we have seen, their definition and enforcement is one of the primary functions of the state. The final distribution of income and wealth under the full operation of this principle may well depend markedly on the rules of property adopted.”

But what are the rules of property that allow the Forbes 400— 400 hundred individuals—count ‘em—to control $1.3 trillion of wealth?

Said economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his book The Good Society: “It is an unequal contest: the rich and comfortable have influence and money. And they vote. The concerned and the poor have numbers, but many of the poor, alas, do not vote. There is democracy but in no slight measure it is a democracy of the fortunate.”

If American democracy actually works, here are some of the results.


Nobel economist Paul Krugman writes: “The real incomes of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold [700%] between 1980 and 2007. But the real income of the median family rose only 22 percent, less than a third its growth over the previous 27 years….Moreover, most of whatever gains ordinary Americans achieved came during the Clinton years. President George W. Bush, who had the distinction of being the first Reaganite president to also have a fully Republican Congress, also had the distinction of presiding over the first administration since Herbert Hoover in which the typical family failed to see any significant income gains.”

America was founded in the 18th century on the philosophical ideas of the so-called Enlightenment philosophers John Locke, David Hume, Jean Jacques Rousseau, et al. But, said Rousseau in The Social Contract: “No citizen shall be rich enough to buy another and none so poor as to forced to sell himself…”

Ding! On this point American democracy has failed.

Gun violence and terror

The majority of Americans want some sort of gun control. Bob Herbert writes:

“This is the American way. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when the country’s attention understandably turned to terrorism, nearly 120,000 Americans have been killed in nonterror homicides, most of them committed with guns. Think about it—120,000 dead. That’s nearly 25 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The United States is estimated to have the world's highest civilian gun ownership rate. Gun deaths average about 80 a day, 34 of them homicides, according to U.S. government statistics.

In an effective democracy, there would be some form of gun control.

As Nanci McGonigal posted in a NYT blog Sept 30: “They say America is the land of the free, but since I moved to Germany 5 years ago, I feel considerably more free than I did in the US. Why? Because I don’t have to worry about someone shooting me.”

In the Blog by Timothy Egan, he writes:

"If it was peanut butter or pistachio nuts taking down people by the dozens every week, we’d be all over it. Witness the recent recalls. But Glocks and AKs — can’t touch ‘em. So we’re awash in guns: 280 million.

"Live with it, gun owners say, and if our murder rate is three times that of the United Kingdom and Canada, five times that of Germany, that’s the deal. The price. For consolation, I guess, there is the fact that the homicide rate has been flat for some time, down from the highs of the 1980s. Still, nearly 17,000 Americans are murdered each year — about 70 percent by guns — and 594,276 lost their lives betweens 1976 and 2005."

Ding! American democracy fails, again.

The economists

Americans depend on the expertise of economists at the highest levels. But, writes Jared Bernstein in the preface to his book Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries): “Economics has been hijacked by the rich and powerful, and it has been forged into a tool that is being used against the rest of us.” Bob Herbert agrees:

“Working people were not just abandoned by big business and their ideological henchmen in government, they were exploited and humiliated. They were denied the productivity gains that should have rightfully accrued to them. They were treated ruthlessly whenever they tried to organize. They were never reasonably protected against the savage dislocations caused by revolutions in technology and global trade.”

Ding! American democracy has failed to manage an economy of the people, by the people and for the people.

American exceptionalism

Roger Cohen, in reviewing The Myth of American Exceptionalism , by Godfrey Hodgson concludes:

“The high number of its prison inmates is exceptional. The quality of its health care is exceptionally bad. The degree of its social inequality is exceptionally acute. Public education has gone into exceptional decline. The Americanization of the Holocaust and uncritical support for Israel have demonstrated an exceptional ability to gloss over uncomfortable truths, including broad American indifference to Hitler’s genocide as it happened.”

Ding! American democracy has failed to deal with the real world.

The helplessness of the individual

In 1910, before he was elected president, Woodrow Wilson said:

“Most men are individuals no longer as far as business, its activities or its moralities, is concerned. They are not units, but fractions; with their individuality and independence of choice in matters of business they have lost their individual choice within the field of morals. They must do what they are told to do, or lose their connection with modern affairs. They are not at liberty to ask whether what they are told to do is right or wrong. They cannot get at the men who ordered it—have no access to them. They have no voice of counsel or protest. They are mere cogs in a machine which has men for its parts.”

A year ago, when W was still president, NYT columnist Thomas Friedman wrote:

“I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system—one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it.”

Ding! If the election and re-election of George W. Bush is American democracy in action, then democracy gets an F.

The 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes noticed—as many of us have—that when left to their own devices, people have a tendency to make a mess of things. His genius lay in the discovery that we do not necessarily make these messes because we set out to harm one another. Often the mess occurs simply because our attempts to secure our own self-interest are collectively self-defeating. So if our “natural” inclination is to mind our own business and look after our own interests, then life in a “state of nature” would be unbearable.

Political scientist Harold Laswell defined politics in the title of his 1935 book: Politics: Who Gets What, When, How. Personality research, he said, has shown “that the individual is a poor judge of his own interest. The individual who chooses a political policy as a symbol of his wants is usually trying to relieve his own disorders by irrelevant palliatives.” Sound familiar?

Going backward

A 2005 survey, from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that 64 percent of Americans supported the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in schools.

Ding! Put to a democratic vote, America could become a global laughing stock as The Flintstones is presented as a “documentary” series.

The health/death debate

The Congress and House of Representatives are having problems passing any kind of legislation to give affordable health care to all Americans. Nearly 50 million Americans do not have health care and because of this thousands die every year.

Ding! The pursuit of life is not constitutionally guaranteed to every American.

Democracy and the Law

Simon-Henri Linguet, a lawyer in pre-Revolutionary France, was disbarred from practice because he was critical of both the law and property: “Laws are destined above all to safeguard property. Now as one can take away much more from the man who has than from the man who has not, they are obviously a guarantee accorded the rich against the poor. It is difficult to believe, and yet it is clearly demonstrable, that the laws are in some respects a conspiracy against the majority of the human race.”

Jacques Necker, who controlled French finances, was sacked on the eve of the French Revolution said: “Almost all civil institutions have been made by property owners. One might say that a small number of men, having divided the earth among themselves, made laws as a union and guarantee against the multitude.”

Democracy is intended to counter this reality.

Returning to Rousseau in the Social Contract: “The universal spirit of laws in all countries is to favour the stronger against the weaker, and those who have against those who have nothing; this disadvantage is inevitable and without exception.” He added: “Humanly speaking, the laws of natural justice, lacking any natural sanction, are unavailing among men. In fact, such laws merely benefit the wicked and injure the just, since the just respect them while others do not do so in return.”

Ding! Americans do not live in a democracy but a plutocracy. Wake up and smell the coffee.

After this depressing piece of journalism, I have to go on and say that I believe there is hope. For that see Part 3 forthcoming!


Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which explains why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue, although a lot of his views could be described as left-wing. He understands that who he is, is largely defined by where he came from. The focus for Daniel’s writing came in 1972. After a trip to Europe he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Alberta, and Calgary in particular, was extremely conservative Bible Belt country, more like Houston than any other Canadian city (a direct influence of the oil industry). Two successive Premiers of the province, from 1935 to 1971, had been Baptist evangelicals with their own weekly Sunday radio program—Back to the Bible Hour, while in office. In Alberta everything was distorted by religion.

Although he had published a few pieces (unpaid) in the local daily, the Calgary Herald, it was not until 1975 that he could actually make a living from journalism when, from 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman (1979-1993), Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting with the CBC. You can write to Daniel at:

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Daniel October 9, 2009 8:41 pm (Pacific time)

Carlson please point out where I stated mexican medical was superior to US , I said more Americans are going south than visa versa . The are excellent Mexican Doctors and not so good ones , the same is true here . There may be good dental service in Oregon but there are sure a lot of people who need dental work . Maybe you can afford the dental work , it looks like many others can not . What good is superior service if one can not afford it ? People go south because the cost is a third to one tenth for the service , and most facilities catering to the North American trade are excellent , with US trained doctors ! Sorry Carlton the rest of your post was a silly rant , with no base in reality .

Carlson October 9, 2009 6:29 pm (Pacific time)

Bernie Druck I belive you were making a tongue in cheek post, if so, good one. Sure got another poster commenting on diversionary areas that miss your point. Bottom line is that we need energy independence to assure that "capitalism" can work for all and that equal opprotunity prevails. Since Canada in the last election is leaning more right, I expect them to be even more future orientated towards capitalistic endeavors. I have to admit I'm glad that I don't need to leave the country for either medical or dental services. The poster who said those services from Mexico, Daniel, are superior to ours, tell me do the illegals living here go there for these services? If they are so good, why do they leave a place where they can get them at a superior level? Maybe if we engage in some Tort Reform and allow for all private insurers access to all 50 states this will create the competition that will drive down prices? For example in California one can only find a fraction of nationwide insurers allowed to sell their services there. De facto Monopoly.

Editor: "Illegals"?  Are you talking about laws or people?  Don't call people illegals or I will flush your comment.    

Daniel October 9, 2009 12:19 pm (Pacific time)

Bernie this is not Daniel J , its the other daniel from the USA . Canada exports more oil to us than the entire persian gulf , twice as much as Saudi Arabia . Thats 2.6 millions barrels per day . Canada is also the largest suppler of natural gas and electricity . Bernie what are the adjustments you believe the US can make for the loss of this vast resource in power , go back to horses and wagons and coal ! The US economy would be panicked and ready to start a war in days if this huge resource was cut . We rely more on Canadian imports than the goods we send them ! The boycott would bring about a worldwide recession starting first in North America . For me capitalism is a tool for good or evil . China is a repressive dictatorship using slaves and prisoners but they are big capitalist . Nazi Germany was highly capitalist , charging for the death camp train ride so the rail road stock holder could have a larger dividend . I watched growing up the high paying industrial jobs being shipped overseas by the bottom line businessmen . The profit off of illness and overcharging adult care facilities in this country make me sick ! There are also many small enlightened companies that practice a fair and balanced form of Capitalism , and I do not refer to fox news . More US citizens are going south to Mexico for their medical and dental treatment than come into the USA from Canada for the same . Mexico has great Doctors at a fraction of the price .

Bernie Druck October 7, 2009 10:59 am (Pacific time)

Daniel J thank you for making my point about the value of "capitalism." You seem to be getting on the right path towards economic enlightment. Of course both Canada and America are intertwined culturally and economically, but America's economy is so huge that even if some of our trade laws evolve into a full boycott of goods and services, America would make some adjustments to our energy needs far faster than Canada could develop policies to avoid a massive economic depression. This is unlikely to ever happen because our relationship will allows us to reconcile differences, mainly because our mutual self-interests are both "capitalistic" and "democratic". I am also pleased to see that your national health care leadership is introducing more private health care which should help us keep the medical resources your monied people come here to use because of your country's inability to serve their needs there.

Daniel October 6, 2009 8:53 am (Pacific time)

Bernie boycott canada for 6 months , there goes the oil prices thru the roof and our economy thru the floor .Canada is the number 1 exporter of oil to the USA . Bright real bright !

Bernie Druck October 5, 2009 10:36 am (Pacific time)

Keynes knew that his theories would influence “practical men”, long after any of them knew why they believed what they believe. He also knew that there is no magic, economic cure-all potion and he was warning future generations not to substitute one bit of “received wisdom” for another — even one, which originated with Keynes himself. Keynes would also have strongly opposed continuous deficit-spending — he believed that debts should be repaid, during economic upswings. If Keynes were alive today, he would not be a “Keynesian”. He would not have reached for a bottle of “100 Proof Keynes”, every time the economy had a slight fever or chill. He advocated a more pragmatic approach — first diagnose the problem (which has not yet been done, for the current “crisis”); then chose the treatment. If America wanted to provide actual evidence on just how strong our economic power is we could boycott all things Canadian for say 6 months (depression not a recession for our northern friends), then stop the boycott and see Canada recover quickly via the power of capitalism. On a micro level this happens hundreds of times daily to small businesses across the lands of our wonderful capitalist country, the best place on the planet.

Lief Twiss October 4, 2009 1:55 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel Johnson is it your contention that the United States is a democracy? I noticed in your above article you took numerous individuals\' writings and then cherry-picked those to make whatever point you were trying to make. If I attempted such a thing during my past academic years I would have become a target for one who failed to make a point, unless not making a point was your point? Maybe we just have a significantly different educational process in the states than what you have been exposed to up there in Calgary? Our form of government is hardly a plutocracy nor a democracy, but then we are not not a democratic form of government. BTW your use of Paul Krugman is a poor example for he has been pretty well rebutted in the last several months as per his Keynesian advocacy. Of course so was Keynes about 60 years ago. Maybe a more accurate economist would be of benefit in any future attempt at explaining what America is?

No, Lief, it is not my contention that the U.S. is a democracy. It\'s just that most Americans believe that it is. It doesn\'t matter what you think of Krugman, the numbers are accurate and I could have just written them out without citing a source. My point is very simple, which I made through simple examples and that is that if American democracy works, why don\'t Americans get what they want? Or, is a completely dysfunctional society what they actually want?

Henry Ruark October 4, 2009 10:46 am (Pacific time)

Friend Mike: Re "students like that" ? - Yepl numerous, some humourous, situations, too long for here. But chose to write in field from early years, and ended up in Chicago editing/publishing then-leading learning media journal, with content from many ed/leaders nationally and an Editorial monthly. Also did ten-year national survey involving 500 respondents yearly on progress in curriculum, print and media developments and school changes. Total wordage chosen by other editors and including ten years of magazine and Op Eds here now just over 7 million words...whatever, if anything, that may now be worth herein !! Whaty's your record for full public communication --thus to dialog re experience-to-share with others ? S-N open to new writers, via Op Eds ? What NOT do your own, and thus learn as well as share experience ???

Henry Ruark October 4, 2009 10:34 am (Pacific time)

Friend Mike: Yr experience far transcends mine in active classrooms, I'm sure from what you now report, accepted in all good faith. First classroom year was 5th-6th grade in two-room school situation in Maine, in town with burned mill, kids fainting in class from hunger, in midst of Great Depression. My point meant to emphasize shaping,installing,supervising and measuring curriculum and its impacts, in which I have some background, as demanded for production of learning media in which I specialized after Indiana U. special-area training, followed by decade in OrDeptEd working on process of change involving media with fed/support from NDEA which I helped write in D.C. But have taught,assisted and co-taught at various times and levels in k-12, h.s., grad school, and for corporate and special-groups, in variety of areas surrounding all forms of communication involved in learning. If too "intense" blame it on 50 yrs fighting for what we all know must be done for our kids, and high levels of own frustration at great lacks now still apparent. Best wishes to you and "keep on keepin' on" - we have huge work yet to do !!

Mike Strowbridge October 3, 2009 6:16 pm (Pacific time)

Henry where did you teach? What subjects? How long? Are you familiar with the different lesson plans addressing American History across the country in public or private schools, or how about home schoolers who score higher in national tests than the other two? My background in teaching began in the 1960\'s, and after all these decades I sure couldn\'t answer the above questions. I saw the below post by Greg which has a pretty reasonable response to Canadian Daniel Johnson who continuously demonstrates a poor grasp of American history, which is not all that unusual for Canadians who really have limited exposure plus most of their instructors that I have attended countless seminars with have shown limited knowledge and teaching experience which at best is quite shallow in most subjects that deal with my country. Sounds like you were more a paper pusher than someone who did any hands on teaching about the subject of American History. I have several former students who went on to very successful careers because of what they were taught by people like me. You have any students like that?.
Just to set the record straight, Mike, I don\'t recall ever being taught American history in school, lo those many years ago.
You\'re taking a pretty arrogant approach which is a typical American attitude which has gotten Americans disliked across the world for the last half century or more.
Instead of making general, unsubstantiated comments, I challenge you to actually refute any point I make. In case you didn\'t notice (I don\'t think you did) I use only Americans themselves as my sources. If they\'re wrong, I\'m wrong. But I\'m careful to choose only those with reputable standing in their fields. That way I can\'t be accused of being an uninformed outsider just sniping. Daniel

Henry Ruark October 3, 2009 3:05 pm (Pacific time)

Anon, Gewg et al: A, yrs shows appalling destructive view of key Constitutional point, distorted for personal gain by those seeking profit from death-dealing instruments, and with actions driven by profit motives of capitalism. IF you can prove otherwise, fire away; for my solid pile of documentation here, revealself to Editor via full ID and working phone like any ordinary American willing to dialog openly should do, and I will answer here or privately as you request. Greg: StateDeptEd regs. set what teachers can do, even with freedom in classroom, as I have reason to know damned well by helping to administer such a program for a decade in Oregon, with fed/funding as support. You ever done same ? Read yr history for early American approach to education which made possible precisely what friend Daniel is describing so clearly, cleanly and with deep documentation. Where's yours ?

Henry Ruark October 3, 2009 10:53 am (Pacific time)

Friend Daniel et al:
Can hardly wait for Part 3.
So far, you are \\"right on the money\\", pun definitely fully intended.
Re insights and references, agree on your view of existent realities and what they mean over time and NOW.

I join you in hope we can learn from our own past and make the now well-demonstrated economic and social/structure changes clearly demanded for any rational advances in this, NOW the 21st Century.

I admire, appreciate and wish to praise your skills and insights publicly, and join you in any possible efforts to fully inform and perhaps even --with sure difficulties for some !!--creating the clearly now-demanded understandings we nust have for strong impact on every life, worldwide.

Anonymous October 1, 2009 5:00 pm (Pacific time)

great job on most of your homework. two things I can add.

1. our economy is run by a privately owned bank, owned by foreigners, and are above U.S. law. Not my words, facts and THEIR words. The federal reserve bank owns everything. Including most of our government and many other countries.

2. You should have left out the firearm issue. Your statements were bias and I could drown you in facts to prove it. Why do you not mention THIS? A medical report in 1998 estimated that adverse reactions to FDA APPROVED prescription drugs are killing about 106,000 Americans each year. It is now more than 250,000 a year.
And these are the people you want to run our health care?
Your stats on firearms is at the least, misleading. I can see the canadian side coming out, and the non-existent heart of an American. Sorry Daniel, but we have here in the U.S. a Constitution, and millions of us stick by it. Maybe its best you stay in Canada.

You asked why I didn't mention some things. In a society as dysfunctional as America today, you can't cover everything. You sound as if America is the only country in the world with a constitution. It's this kind of arrogance and ignorance that gets Americans disliked and hated by others around the world. You said you could "drown me in facts" on the firearms issue. Why don't you drown the families of the hundreds of thousands of victims of firearm violence with those facts. I'm sure they'll be consoled when you point out to them how right you are. Stay in Canada? Yes, that has been my plan for quite a few years. I feel a lot safer on this side of the border although the smuggling of guns into Canada from the US is hurting us. Daniel

Ersun Warncke October 1, 2009 9:56 am (Pacific time)

On the history of the American form of democracy it might be worthwhile to point out some of the peculiar features of its evolution.

Under the monarchical system in Europe, the monarch, supported by the Church, was considered to be a representative of the people. The monarch had a naturally adversarial role with the aristocracy (land owners) and thus provided a check on their abuses of the population.

In the specific case of England, from which the U.S. inherited its legal system, this can be demonstrated in the structure of their court system.

The common law was administered through courts run by the aristocracy with only land owners as jurors. This naturally led to all kinds of injustices, so there were also courts of equity, which were based on the authority of the monarch to overturn a ruling in the courts of law.

The aristocracy in America founded this country specifically for the purpose of freeing themselves from the constraints of monarchy. This is of course presented as being for the benefit of the people.

However, if you look at the political and legal system that America evolved from, it is clear that the creation of "democracy" here had the specific purpose of removing the only check on aristocratic power. Absent any constraint, from a monarch or church (both institutions drawing their power from the people), the aristocracy have run completely wild in this countryThis is not an endorsement of European style monarchy, another bad system of government. I would only argue that the creation of the U.S. government upset a balanced social order, and did so for the specific purpose of increasing the power of land owners over the rest of society.

Good points that I will be addressing in Part 3. Thanks for your detailed comments. Daniel

Greg October 1, 2009 8:42 am (Pacific time)

This article is pretty much what the majority of American kids get exposed to in elementary and high school. Of course there are many other versions as per each individual teacher/instructor who likes to relate during the learning process they control. In Canada, when you are taught about American History, do you get a mix of opposing perspectives or is it one size fits all? Regarding the healthcare data you put out above, during Obama's recent speech to the joint congress he used the figure 30 million being uninsured, a swing of 17 to 20 million less than the 47 to 50 million used previously. So what new database was he referencing? Some say he ommitted illegals, but who knows.

Sounds like having millions of uninsured is okay with you because you live in such a wonderful country. Well, my friend, it's not that wonderful to a lot of people. Try refuting any of my points, if you can. I don't make this stuff up, you know. Daniel

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