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Showing posts from January, 2004

Europeans Don't Understand U.S. System

A curious survey was conducted in Europe by The Economist, using the size of Europe as a starting point for developing the questions.

First, remember that America is a system of "states" with independent central authorities. A common currency and common defense was developed, but each state oversees: education, most welfare, transportation, local security, medical care... et cetera. Even the death penalty is a state-by-state issue at present. In other words, The Economist began with the historical comparison of the US to the EU.

So, we have 50 States. How many were in the EU? I recall, at least at one point, 15 major members.

Anyway, the question then became how many could name the States in the USA, at least two governors, explain the Republican form versus European Parliamentary forms, et cetera.

It turned out most Europeans thought the USA had a single system, one set of standards for education, one national set of laws, et cetera. The results of the survery were quite st…

Referendum and Direct Democracy

I was asked: "What and when was the last federal referendum in the USA? How much of what kind of legislation is subject to referendum in the USA?" - Jerry

This goes to culture and responsibility:

Think of this in terms of philosophy, not mere politics. It is easy to call for a vote, but people are reluctant to do so. Is that because change would be "bad" or because they don't care?

Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe static systems are better than wildly fluctuating ones for philosophical reasons?

When things are very "easy" do the people take it for granted? What can we do to make people realize they can exercise power? It is extremely easy (compared to our population of 300 million) to get matters to Congress, and then to the States.

Does the ease of petition make it an empty act? I don't even know how many petitions I have signed or not signed since 1986, when I first registered to vote. I suppose I've signed a dozen or so, with three of them…