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I went through a bunch of quotes about making a difference and this one seemed as good as any of them:
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Ghandi.

Most of the quotes focused on the ability of an individual to make a difference. There is another quote that wasn't in the list that says something to the effect that the only way that change has ever occurred is by the efforts of an individual.

We have some intelligent people in this forum who have provided comments on this topic. I think there is general agreement that the current economic (and political) system in North America and Europe is pretty badly broken. It is easy to imagine everything getting worse and worse as the impact of the debt load in these countries really hits home. We don't see great political leadership. Instead we see political "leaders" spending us into bankruptcy.

So my question is: If we as individuals can make a difference, what kind of difference should we make and how should we go about it? It's easy to get on the gloom and doom track and that is what we naturally tend to do. If we actually want to look forward to these major issues getting addressed and resolved, how can we be that change?

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Nice tack
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>If we actually want to look forward to these major issues getting addressed and resolved, how can we be that change?

Nice. How about you start us off Chris?

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The answers are more difficult than the question (obviously!). One thought to start with:

Get to know your local politicians!
Many of the problems seem to start with politics (in "local" I include MPs, Members of Congress and so forth). We don't demand enough accountability from our politicians and leave them free to do pretty much what they want. They see a lot of Corporate people lobbying them but they probably don't see a lot of average folks except at staged affairs. The % of people getting involved even just to vote is pretty low. The silent majority is truly silent. The Baby Boomers who were vocal in the 60's (not all of them but quite a few) are now pretty quiet or worse, they are now part of the problem. Subsequent generations don't seem to have much fire. Everyone seems to have become too focused on their own little world to pay attention to the big picture. I don't know if democracy can survive so much apathy.

The groups that are most vocal are those like the Tea Party in the US who have an agenda that they want to promote. They are an example of a group that isn't that big but gets a lot of press and quite a bit of influence.

As individuals, we can't change the whole political system but we can start to provide a greater presence. Imagine if every politician had at least 1 (but hopefully many more) people who followed what he / she (and his/her party) did quite closely, wrote letters (to the politician, the media and so forth) and made personal visits to provide their feedback. This is something that we can do as individuals. You'd probably be treated like a nut but maybe we need more of those. Where does it lead and how much impact can it have? Hard to say but the journey of a thousand miles and all that. Am I going to start doing this tomorrow. No, but I'm thinking about it. This isn't a fully matured thought yet but it will get there.

Feedback and other thoughts and suggestions?

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>If we actually want to look forward to these major issues getting addressed and resolved, how can we be that change?

1) Talk to people about it! No man is an island. You can't change the world by yourself but you can find others to join you. If as many people knew the names of the current world leaders as who know the names of the current Hollywood starlets, we wouldn't be in this mess.

2) Vote! Reward candidates who don't pander, who don't promise a free lunch, even if it means your voting for an independent/third party who don't stand a chance of winning. And do #1 here as well, tell other people who your voting for an why. You might find no one actually wants to vote for the person their voting for. Donate to these groups if you can.

3) Learn about the issues and ignore the fluff. Don't let personal attacks work.

4) Keep track not just of your local politicians but all the important figures in your country. I personally hate the 'accountability' rhetoric its not about holding politicians to their word, its about knowing what they actually do vs what they say they do, being able to read between the lines of the press release. Find out about their donors as well, these are the people who own their soul. Goes with #1 inform others about it too.

5) Change from the inside, join a party or run for office if you can't find a good option to support.

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I would add to this the popular mentality that "we can have our cake and eat it too" which kept electing politicians who spent more than they had and cut taxes while running a deficit. And caused people to borrow money to buy luxuries they couldn't afford (eg. monster houses).

in fact cutting taxes drives investment and spending which in turn increases tax revenue.
BUT is has to be accompanied by larger (not equal, larger) cuts in government spending, something that our politicians are incapable of even contemplating (to the point where they've redefined "cutbacks" to mean "tax increases").

It's simple, if tax RATES are cut, people have more money to spend.
Some will spend that on investing in businesses, driving employment (and thus reducing unemployment numbers). Others will use it to buy the products of those businesses, thus generating more income for them, which will be taxed.

But you're right about the far too high level of borrowing. Of course, with the rate our governments are doing it, the little bit Joe Average borrows in comparison isn't going to make any difference (he might be in debt to several times his annual income, but his share of the government debt is several times more than that again).

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I will simply say that multinational corporations (and individuals) can and do invest their money overseas so cutting taxes in the USA doesn't necessarily mean investment in business in the USA. Even if all the money was invested in the USA there is no guarantee that total revenue will increase after a tax cut.

Also in 2005 household (personal) debt exceeded national debt in the USA so it is not insignificant. Debt can be useful at certain points in time but the majority of the population should not be constantly in debt. The fact that over 50% of Americans are retiring in debt is a very bad sign (http://www.newser.com/story/108982/56-of-americans-retiring-with-debt.html)

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companies and individuals mostly take their money out of their country because the investment climate in their home country is abysmal.
That's why you see companies moving their entire operations abroad, it's just too expensive to stay at home.
When it becomes cheaper to make a car in say Indonesia where it takes more people to do the work, ship it to the US, pay the severance fees for your US workers, and pay the massive import duties on foreign made products as compared to building that car in the US there's something seriously wrong with the US investment/labour climate.

That problem is not just taxes of course, but they're a big factor.
- labour unions causing labour cost to skyrocket by making it so people do hardly any real work yet get extensive benefits and salaries way out of proportion to the work performed. High income taxes make that only worse.
- regulatory pressure causing the cost of operating the company and plants to become excessive even without taxation.
- constant threat of lawsuits causing your legal fees, insurance, etc. etc. to go completely out of control.

All those are caused by the political climate in the US, which is (certainly under the current administration) unwilling to handle any of them and in fact is making all of them worse.

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Jwenting while I agree with you to a certain extent, I would add in the other side of the equation:

That Third World Countries have:
Too few labour unions
Too few safety/environmental regulations (see the ecological disaster that is China)

Which are beyond the control of the US gov't.

I would hate to see what would happen if the US tried to become competitive with places like China on environmental regulations, labour safety regulations, wages and benefits.

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Sorry, I don't buy this statement, neither the thralldom nor that the Fed is a Ponzi scheme - maybe if you used different language we could discuss

In other words, a pyramid scheme where there is no hope of ever repaying the debt generated (since it takes x% more money to repay the original amount. In Canada, Ponzi scheme are illegal.

I am not sure what it is that you are 'valuing' so I can't tell if it is being diluted.

With commodites backed money, each unit has an intrinsic value. With fiat money (non gold-backed) it has none and printing more just means that each unit is worth less.

Nope - way too simplistic; these had more to do with the hyperinflation:

  1. The kaiser and parliament decided to fund WWI with debt rather than raising taxes - this is actually a point for your side of the argument since Bush decided to fund his wars with debt AND reduced taxes.
  2. order-of-magnitude increases in prices and interest rates,
  3. consumer flight from cash to hard assets,
  4. reparations accounted for 1/3 of German deficit,

"decided to fund WWI with debt": this is the essence of the FED.

Is this a reference to Hitler coming to power? By the time Hitler started his rise, hyperinflation had been stoppedNope - this did not happen in Germany; in fact, Germany still does most its own manufacturing

Germany does. But not the United States.

Not sure where this is coming from - 'enforced government policy'? are you talking about enforcing the law?

Gibson Guitar was raided because they were using "illegal" wood, the smae that other guitar manufacturers are using. But they received a suggestion (mafia style) that the raid problem would go away if they would export their manufacturing base to some third world country. Google it. It is unbelievable.

Parties in high school and college is new?

Not new but when it becomes the major and all the rest are futile minors...

...but I will need some clarification so we can continue. I am approaching retirement myself and do not see how I am going to afford it.

I hope the winters to come are not too hard.

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In other words, a pyramid scheme where there is no hope of ever repaying the debt generated (since it takes x% more money to repay the original amount. In Canada, Ponzi scheme are illegal.

I think you mean borrowing more money to pay off existing debt. That would be the closest to a Ponzi scheme or Pyramid scheme that could have to do with the Federal Reserve but US Gov't debt is only part of what the Fed does. And the Fed is not responsible for printing the money.

"decided to fund WWI with debt": this is the essence of the FED.

No that is what the US gov't with the support of the populace decided to do. The Fed did not declare war with Afghanistan or Iraq, it provided the money to pay for it when the gov't (aka the George W. Bush Republicans) decided it wasn't going to raise taxes or cut services to pay for the wars.

The Republicans insistence that it is all the Fed's fault is just deflecting the blame from themselves. The Fed does not decide gov't policy or the budget so how is it to blame for deficits and public debt? and How would getting rid of the Fed prevent the gov't from running deficits or running up debt?

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I think you mean borrowing more money to pay off existing debt. That would be the closest to a Ponzi scheme or Pyramid scheme that could have to do with the Federal Reserve but US Gov't debt is only part of what the Fed does. And the Fed is not responsible for printing the money.

The FED will keep printing as long as the Gov. ask for some and for a price.

No that is what the US gov't with the support of the populace decided to do. The Fed did not declare war with Afghanistan or Iraq, it provided the money to pay for it when the gov't (aka the George W. Bush Republicans) decided it wasn't going to raise taxes or cut services to pay for the wars.

The Republicans insistence that it is all the Fed's fault is just deflecting the blame from themselves. The Fed does not decide gov't policy or the budget so how is it to blame for deficits and public debt? and How would getting rid of the Fed prevent the gov't from running deficits or running up debt?

It doesn't matter who did what, but that the results are the 'same as'.

The end result might be wheelbarrow of money to pay for your last loaf of bread. I do pray it does not come to that.

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