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What are the underlying values upon which American laws are based?

 
 
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:32 am
Religious morals? Societal ethics? How much money a corporate industry can stuff into the pockets of some scumbag politician? What do you think? And what do you think laws SHOULD be based on?
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 09:12 am
@kickycan,
Primarily peace; and this is shown by our laws prohibiting spolation... And this is something that goes way back in cannon law that naturally became part of European Law since the Church controlled the early universities... If some one takes something from you, and you take it back by force you actually give them a better title to the property by doing so than you possessed before... This is contrary to tribal law and law under Islam where people are considered to have an absolute right to justice... Here we consider people have a right to peace, and peace should be given first with justice left hanging...

The problem is, that with this one side of the social contract given, there is never an issue, or a rush to provide the justice which should naturally follow... The native Americans are still looking for justice, and they long ago gave peace... The blacks have always given peace and never received justice.... We, and they, no less than ourselves and all have an absolute right to justice and a positive need for it that if too long denied will spill out into other forms of injustice, and violence demaning even more order and peace...Injustice has been the destruction of all societies, and it is destroying ours, and it is because the rich and powerful who have control over it refuse to give it to the majority who need it...
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 09:55 am
@kickycan,
As with most human institutions, our laws are based primarily on envy, fear, and greed. Translated into game theoretic terms, our laws are designed to address the free-rider problem and the "tragedy of the commons."

Ideally, our laws should be based on the enlightened insights of a benevolent deity. Or on what I think is right. Take your pick.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 01:46 pm
I find that tragedy of the commons to be rather naive, and i came to that conclusion by thinking about the place which commons held in English history, and their destruction. It was almost never the case that a commons was insufficient to graze the livestock of the small holders for whose use it was intended. The implicit assumption in the example provided is that there will be insufficient resources, and that can only be assessed on a case by case basis.

In England, the commons were more than sufficient to graze the livestock of small holders, and in fact, during the upheaval of the civil wars, many people who were called Diggers not only grazed livestock on the commons, but dug up the ground (and hence, Diggers) to plant crops as well--they were the original communists, and it is alleged by historians better informed than am i that Marx was influenced by reading about them at the British Museum.

Long before the Diggers, and for long after the restoration of the monarchy, the biggest problem with commons was their sequestration. People would succeed in having a special act passed by Parliament to enclose a commons, upon which they could grow crops or graze livestoc, or both--and to far greater effect, with far greater efficiency than was the case with small holders simply grazing their few livestock there, or the even the Diggers growing crops and grazing livestock. Between 1500 and 1900, it almost seems that acts of enclosure were two a penny--even the great hero (or monster, depending upon your point of view) Cromwell began his political career opposing the enclosure of fen land in East Anglia.

When state or territorial legislatures would pass ordinances which allowed the mineral or water rights of land you had purchased to be claimed or sold out from under you; when local authorities use the right of eminent domain to seize property--you have examples of actions little different from acts of enclosure. Governments do not allow mineral rights to be claimed or sold out from under your property because the government intends to exploit the resources--it will be individuals who will do so. Eminent domain is used to create rights of way for roads or railroads, or utilities, when the benefit does not necessarily accrue to the government (and therefore, arguably, to all citizens), but when the benefits accrue to individuals or joint stock companies.

It cannot be ignored that bodies of laws contain, to a greater or lesser extent, ordinances the purpose of which is to benefit individuals, or small coteries of individuals with influence among those writing the laws, rather than the commonalty.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 01:59 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

I find that tragedy of the commons to be rather naive, and i came to that conclusion by thinking about the place which commons held in English history, and their destruction.

The "tragedy of the commons" problem applies to any limited public resource, not just 16th-century common lands. The birthday cake in the company lunchroom that is all gone before you get a chance to grab a slice is just as much a case of the "tragedy of the commons" as the over-grazing of common pasturages. Or are you suggesting that there are theoretical problems with the idea of the "tragedy of the commons," rather than merely some historical quibbles?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 03:49 pm
@joefromchicago,
No, i am saying that the theoretical construct is limited by an assumption that resources are necessaritly limited. It is also not a "quibble" to point out that throughout history (the only basis upon which to reasonably construct a theory of the bases of law) privileged elites have exploited special relationships to those in government for their personal and mutual benefit.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 06:55 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

No, i am saying that the theoretical construct is limited by an assumption that resources are necessaritly limited.

Well, for the most part, resources are necessarily limited.

Setanta wrote:
It is also not a "quibble" to point out that throughout history (the only basis upon which to reasonably construct a theory of the bases of law) privileged elites have exploited special relationships to those in government for their personal and mutual benefit.

I don't disagree, but that's not a response to anything I wrote.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 07:00 pm
@kickycan,
Quote:
what do you think laws SHOULD be based on?



Readings of ox entrails.
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:03 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Eminent domain is used to create rights of way for roads or railroads, or utilities, when the benefit does not necessarily accrue to the government (and therefore, arguably, to all citizens), but when the benefits accrue to individuals or joint stock companies.


I'm not sure what your position is on this.
Of course there are obvious monetary benefits to those doing the building.
But the great benefit does, indeed, go to the citizens in the cases you have mentioned. As Americans we all have benefited greatly from the railroads, utilities, and the interstate highway system.

Quote:
It cannot be ignored that bodies of laws contain, to a greater or lesser extent, ordinances the purpose of which is to benefit individuals, or small coteries of individuals with influence among those writing the laws, rather than the commonalty.


I can't agree that the purpose is to benefit individuals. It is easy to think that when we see the enormous profits made by corporations.
However, in a capitalistic society that rewards initiative, we must recognise the opportunities provided to the general populace by this policy of law.
Lobbyists operate a lot like salesmen, the whole point of the pitch is the greater benefit to the common man in the long run. Of course we get ripped off from time to time, but I think it's unfair to say the intent and purpose among lawmakers is to benefit the individual.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:15 pm
@wayne,
Quote:
Sidney Dillon (May 7, 1812—June 9, 1892-[1]), an America railroad executive and one the nations premier railroad builders.

He was actively involved in the construction of numerous roads, his largest being the Union Pacific Railroad, with which he became actively involved in 1865 through an equity exchange with the Crédit Mobilier of America corporation.

Crédit Mobilier of America was a company setup by the Union Pacific to defraud United States taxpayers in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The result was the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal which exposed an over-invoicing and a stock & bond share pricing scheme, where by Union Pacific officers and directors, including Dillon, profited by manipulating the share price of Crédit Mobilier of America's stock shares and bonds, padding invoices to the U.S. Government, and bribing congressmen with shares in Crédit Mobilier of America, cash and other perks.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Dillon
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:18 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Setanta wrote:

I find that tragedy of the commons to be rather naive, and i came to that conclusion by thinking about the place which commons held in English history, and their destruction.

The "tragedy of the commons" problem applies to any limited public resource, not just 16th-century common lands. The birthday cake in the company lunchroom that is all gone before you get a chance to grab a slice is just as much a case of the "tragedy of the commons" as the over-grazing of common pasturages. Or are you suggesting that there are theoretical problems with the idea of the "tragedy of the commons," rather than merely some historical quibbles?
The closing of the commons was a tragedy for those people robbed of their acestral rights, and their living labor was spent, and they died fueling the industial revolution in England just as the sheep who then grazed on their former land fed their wool to that same revolution...Capital was created out of the livelyhoods of many hundreds of thousands and it was then that poverty first became an issue in England, for before that time poor people still had subsistence, and after, they did not....

But ultimately, the tragedy may well be our comedy because the rich have shown us that no right of propety is secure, that property rights have always been in flux and never been more certain than a fast fish... When we make all their property common property once more and they complain we can point out the fact that to have wealth they made hereditary property rights meaningless for England's Yew Men farmers, and that turn about is fair play... They have shown us that all that is needed is the law, and owning that, one can own all...
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:23 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

Quote:
what do you think laws SHOULD be based on?



Readings of ox entrails.
You must be happy today since we have little more sense to most of our laws than can be found in a pile of guts... If we were a democracy, the people would be the law...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:31 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

Quote:
Eminent domain is used to create rights of way for roads or railroads, or utilities, when the benefit does not necessarily accrue to the government (and therefore, arguably, to all citizens), but when the benefits accrue to individuals or joint stock companies.


I'm not sure what your position is on this.
Of course there are obvious monetary benefits to those doing the building.
But the great benefit does, indeed, go to the citizens in the cases you have mentioned. As Americans we all have benefited greatly from the railroads, utilities, and the interstate highway system.

Quote:
It cannot be ignored that bodies of laws contain, to a greater or lesser extent, ordinances the purpose of which is to benefit individuals, or small coteries of individuals with influence among those writing the laws, rather than the commonalty.


I can't agree that the purpose is to benefit individuals. It is easy to think that when we see the enormous profits made by corporations.
However, in a capitalistic society that rewards initiative, we must recognise the opportunities provided to the general populace by this policy of law.
Lobbyists operate a lot like salesmen, the whole point of the pitch is the greater benefit to the common man in the long run. Of course we get ripped off from time to time, but I think it's unfair to say the intent and purpose among lawmakers is to benefit the individual.
You better read your history... We have not all benefitted from the great grants of land given to the Railroads... Even today it is just a glut for the rich... When amtrack is well capitalized they want it privatized and once privatized they suck the capital out and ask for help... They have never wanted to carry human traffic because people complain and then sue... Think of all the people who were sold the high planes and the Indians who were run off of it when everyone knew it was nothing but a desert fit for light grazing... Is there some reason that was all turned over to private interests??? It was only because they had the power to bribe government, and that is how money makes more money...
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:43 pm
@talk72000,
There will always be profiteers who take advantage of the situation. Sad , but unavoidable.
What I'm saying is that is not the intent of our lawmakers. We accept a certain amount of risk in the name of progress, and we do get ripped off from time to time.
The railroads were well worth the price we paid, ripoffs included, in the development of this country.
A few of our lawmakers turn out to be crooks from time to time, so what. The world is full of crooks.
The intent is progress for the whole, the risks are inherent.
The greater proprotion of lawmakers have the best interest of the country at heart. That doesn't make for entertaining cable news though.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 08:50 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

There will always be profiteers who take advantage of the situation. Sad , but unavoidable.
What I'm saying is that is not the intent of our lawmakers. We accept a certain amount of risk in the name of progress, and we do get ripped off from time to time.
The railroads were well worth the price we paid, ripoffs included, in the development of this country.
A few of our lawmakers turn out to be crooks from time to time, so what. The world is full of crooks.
The intent is progress for the whole, the risks are inherent.
The greater proprotion of lawmakers have the best interest of the country at heart. That doesn't make for entertaining cable news though.
That is just great... So close the commons... It was good for the country of England so why not end all of our inalienable rights, since those rights too were inalienable??? How do you judge such a thing good for the country... Do you have any idea how little good purpose those railroads served, especially when compared with the good purpose they could serve??? Canada has a mass transit rail system... Why can't we??? When you consider how many natives and native cultures were destroyed and for what little actual gain, I think you have to be mad to say we benefitted from it... The gain was private, and still is... There are a relative handful of ranchers taking it all in the west... It barely serves their purposes let alone ours... There is some mining, and way too much timbering, but not enough now to justify the destruction and human waste that occured for the benefit of a few...
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wayne
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 09:08 pm
@Fido,
Just how do you think all those goods that built this country were transported?
The east coast cities ate a lot of Kansas beef transported by those railroads.
Just because a few people got enormously rich doesn't mean the glass is half empty.
The interstate road system broke the railroads grip, and a lot of people made fortunes on that.
The Indian situation was sad, yes. What would you have us do? The world isn't perfect. Like it or not, we're trying to feed an ever increasing population.
Perhaps you should consider a road trip, or amtrak, to the midwest during harvest next year to see just what's involved in getting the bread to your table.
When you see how much grain gets hauled out of here on those evil railroads maybe you can come up with a better idea.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 09:17 pm
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

Just how do you think all those goods that built this country were transported?
The east coast cities ate a lot of Kansas beef transported by those railroads.
Just because a few people got enormously rich doesn't mean the glass is half empty.
The interstate road system broke the railroads grip, and a lot of people made fortunes on that.
The Indian situation was sad, yes. What would you have us do? The world isn't perfect. Like it or not, we're trying to feed an ever increasing population.
Perhaps you should consider a road trip, or amtrak, to the midwest during harvest next year to see just what's involved in getting the bread to your table.
When you see how much grain gets hauled out of here on those evil railroads maybe you can come up with a better idea.
The indian situation wasn't sad... If a meteor should crash through your roof and kill you dead, that would be sad... What happened to the natives of this land was criminal....And your notion that Politicians are well meaning is nonsense... Not one of them willingly means so well as to forfeit their jobs by giving up an ounce of personal power... The house of reps could be the most powerful body on the planet, but to have more individual power they robbed power from the people and from the institution... Now they have to be scared and run scared from their divided disticts, and figure out how little they can give the people of what is all theirs and still get re-elected... They are brain dead and morally deficient... I think you are retarded, and I don't have time to explain the basic facts of life to you...
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 09:32 pm
@Fido,
You are being unrealistic. Everyone simply cannot have what they think they can have, sorry.
We are all doing our best to rectify the wrong done to the American Indian, again, I urge you to take a roadtrip to say, Dulce New Mexico and see what's been done .
Maybe you shouldn't watch so much cable news.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2010 02:35 am
@joefromchicago,
I know of no basis for you to resaonably allege that resources are for the most part limited. Certainly there are many resources which are limited, but there are many others which are not.

I am not restricted to simply responding to the things w hich you have written. Kicky asks what values American laws are based on. I am simply pointing out that in the past, laws (either American laws or the system of laws from which they derive) have been based on the preservation of privilege. I don't need your permission to point that out.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Dec, 2010 06:31 am
@wayne,
wayne wrote:

You are being unrealistic. Everyone simply cannot have what they think they can have, sorry.
We are all doing our best to rectify the wrong done to the American Indian, again, I urge you to take a roadtrip to say, Dulce New Mexico and see what's been done .
Maybe you shouldn't watch so much cable news.
As long as the rich have all they want of this country and leave the country only that part they intend to take later it does not matter what bones are thrown to the natives or anyone else to shut up their whining mouths... Like Setanta says: It is about protecting privilage... Well, every state is about keeping order while the class struggle is won or lost...

We have lost this country to the rich, and not just our own, but the rich of the world and we are soon to be third worlders in what ever part they leave us... I want to burn them out... I want to take this country back to the commonwealth... I want to remind those people that in private hands or public hands the country must still support the population.... Private property, what our laws are designed to protect- are an injustice... Only if they pay their way can those with property not be a burden on society; and this -they refuse to do... They will not be taxed because taxes interfere with their gobbling up of property and resources... Let them have it, because as soon as they own all the wealth and all the property these values and meanings will become meaningless...

The only way property and privilage can mean something for everyone is for everyone to have enough of them.. And we do not... Most of us do not have enough, so your suggestion that it is a matter of want is foolish... We pay the taxes the rich refuse.. It makes them rich while it makes us poor... Sooner or later they will deny the government the money needed to enforce laws and support a military, and the government to keep itself in business will trade our rights to foreign powers who have nothing in common with us... Sound familiar??? it is happening while we speak... If capitalism works so well, why are the communists bankrolling it??? Because they love us??? Get real...
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