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Lobbying 101

(category: Politics, Word count: 393)
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Lobbying 101 What is Lobbying? Lobbying, quite simply, is:

-noun 1.an entrance hall, corridor, or vestibule, as in a public building, often serving as an anteroom; foyer. 2.a large public room or hall adjacent to a legislative chamber. 3.a group of persons who work or conduct a campaign to influence members of a legislature to vote according to the group's special interest. -verb (used without object) 4.to solicit or try to influence the votes of members of a legislative body. -verb (used with object) 5.to try to influence the actions of (public officials, esp. legislators). 6.to urge or procure the passage of (a bill), by lobbying.

Many people with whom I correspond on forums and message boards profess to hate lobbyists and "special interests" and their influence in state and national government. However, anyone who has signed a petition, been involved in a demonstration, paid union dues, or written a letter to a legislator has been involved in lobbying. Like it or not.

Legislators are incredibly busy people. And, as a result many do not get the chance to hear what the people want from their government. That's where the lobbyist comes in. His job is to get the client's message across. If the client has a bill he or she wants to get passed into law, it is the lobbyist's job to explain the benefits of the bill to the legislators, find an author for the bill, ask for each legislator's support, and babysit the bill through the legislative process.

Contrary to popular belief, lobbyists as a whole are not shady, evil individuals. Yes, there are some who are entirely unethical and give the rest a bad name, but, for the most part, lobbyists are doing a job. In Oklahoma, where I live, the state Ethics Commission has strict rules for what a lobbyist can and cannot do. Woe to the lobbyist who does not abide by those rules.

Lobbying is a vital part of the legislative process. It allows legislators to make more educated decisions before voting on issues that will affect YOU!

For more information, or if you just have questions, please feel free to visit my website at S.E.G. Group, LLC and use the contact area.

To be continued......

Shawn Garza is president of S.E.G. Group, LLC, a lobbying and legislative consulting firm in Oklahoma City, OK.

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The Drawbacks Of Canceling Military Retirement Reform Act Of 1986

(category: Politics, Word count: 640)
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For military personnel who had served the United States with utmost dedication and service, it would be very difficult for them to recognize the issues that are more serious to the "national security" than how the men and women of the U.S. armed forces will benefit from military retirement.

In the U.S., military retirement plans are one of the best gratifications these people should have by the time they have reached their retirement age. Considering the services and dedication that the military personnel have offered, military retirement is the best reward to compensate their performances.

Today, under the Military Retirement Reform Act of 1986 (REDUX), military people are enjoying a 50% compensation based on their "basic salary" while they were still on service. This is after they have opted to retire upon accumulating 20 years of military service. This is applicable to any military personnel who have joined the service on or before July 31, 1986.

Consequently, based on REDUX rules, anyone who was able to join the military after July 31, 1986 is expected to receive 40% of his basic compensation upon completion of a 20-year service in the military.

However, with the perilous weaknesses of the government, the compensations that military retirement plans are expected to provide becomes a threat instead of a reward.

On its current state, the Federal government is presently considering the cancellation of REDUX. As a result, military retirement benefits will be fixed on a 50% compensation upon completion of 20-year service for all the personnel.

Sounds good? Think again.

While military retirement benefits may increase upon the cancellation of REDUX, many people still say that it is not advisable that the government should take drastic changes on important matters like the proposed REDUX cancellation.

Statistical reports show that abolishment of REDUX will charge the government a whopping $6 billion for the following 6 years and approximately $1.5 billion a year after that.

This may not sound like a disadvantage at all considering the fact that the military personnel are the ones who will benefit from such action.

However, what the opposition would like to say is that making significant changes in the military retirement plan is critical based on the following reasons:

1. Effect not clearly determined

The effects on maintenance of the military funds brought about by such major changes in the military retirement are hard to uncover in a snap. In fact, many people claim that the objectives of canceling REDUX were not even clearly put into details.

2. Changes like this are rare

Political and military analysts say that changes in the system like that of the military retirement plans are "politically" hard to establish. In essence, changes like the proposed REDUX cancellation are very uncommon.

For this reason, one can simply understand that people, especially those in the military, can still do away with what they have now. That means they can still survive for years without having to change the military retirement plans.

All of these things are boiled down to the fact that in a matter of serious change in an ongoing political system like the military retirement, important considerations must be made and taken into account before even thinking of drafting the proposal.

All sides of the coin must be well considered, both pensively and on purpose. Changes to be made in military retirement should not be dealt with as of the moment but more on the long-term effect.

The complexity of choices and issues concerning military retirement should not propose a threat on the personal growth of every individual who have served in the military.

Keep in mind that retirement is something that every worker should enjoy after his or her retirement age. The war is over. Why prolong the agony of the military people?

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Air Force Medical Team Performs Goodwill Mission In Thailand

(category: Politics, Word count: 482)
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A U.nited States. Air Force medical and dental team and members of the Royal Thai Air Force participated in a humanitarian mission at Thairat 72 School in Udon Thani on Feb. 6, 2007.

This was the second civil-action project and the first in northern Thailand conducted during exercise Cope Tiger 2007. Cope Tiger is one of the annual joint Thai-US exercises that are usually referred to as "war games" but in reality are joint training missions and humanitarian assistance.

According to Royal Thai Air Force Capt. Mathin Piyaamornmatha, the people here have no chance to receive medicine because they are in the country far from the city and they have no money.

"Today they see that the U.S. is friendly, and they have a chance to have medicine," said Captain Piyaamornmatha.

Not only did the students and local community members get medicine, they were treated to foot massages, hair cuts, a concert by members of the Royal Thai Air Force's 23rd Wing and a demonstration of tarkaw (a cross between volleyball and soccer). Amid all the festivities, the medical teams from U.S. Air Force units in Japan performed dental and eye exams.

"We get a chance to take a small child out of pain, which gives them a chance to concentrate on learning," said Capt. Alan Neal of the 35th Dental Squadron at Misawa Air Base Japan.

Captain Neal said this event is more than just pulling teeth or checking eyesight; it is a two-way street of sharing.

"It is about building a relationship of trust," Captain Neal said.

"This is a chance for the Thais to get a firsthand experience as to what type of people make up the American military," said Senior Airman Joseph Reed, a satellite technician with the 18th Communications Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan. "Hopefully, they will know that people from other parts of the world care about them and their future."

"Who knows? Our visit might inspire them to become dentists or expand their education," added Captain Neal.

"This was an eye-opening experience," said Senior Airman Hilary Easkin, a dental assistant from the 35th Dental Squadron at Misawa AB. "I came away with an appreciation for our job and our ability to help these people. They were very appreciative of our help and we were grateful for their hospitality and the chance to help them."

Lt. Col. Michael Akiona, the 13th Air Expeditionary Group commander and KC-135 detachment commander, noted that the gifts given to the school are tokens of friendship between Thailand and the United States.

"We look forward to Cope Tiger to renew our friendship," he said.

If you have ever participated in a goodwill mission like this, then you know that you come away feeling better than the patients that you treated.

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Middle East Peace Is An Oxymoron

(category: Politics, Word count: 951)
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The phrase Middle East and the word peace are so contradictory that when put together they become an oxymoron. An oxymoron, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined". There are very few things in this world that are more contradictory than the words "Middle East peace."

As long as there are Christians and Jews in this world, the fundamentalist Islamic Arabs will never allow peace. The Koran states, under 5:54, "O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them.", under 8:39, "Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme.", under 9:123, "Believers: Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you.", under 2:191, "Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out.", Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.". As long as there are Muslims that believe in these orders, there can not and will not be 'Middle East peace'.

Even if the fundmentalist Islamics managed to destroy every Christian and Jew in the world, there would still not be peace in the Middle East. Islam has several sects, ie: Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Kahrijite, Wahhabi, Nizari (also known as "Assassins") and more. Many sects believe that followers of other sects are non believers because they follow the wrong sect. The only thing that keeps them from destroying each other is the old saying, 'an enemy of my enemy is my friend'. As long as there are Christians and Jews to hate, they will, pretty much, leave each other alone.

Ever since the State Of Israel was recognized by the United Nations, the Arab countries have been trying to "push Israel into the sea". Many Arab leaders have publicly stated that "they will not be satisfied untill Israel no longer exists". Many Arab leaders openly support the Palestinian terrorists that use homicide bombers, car bombs and rockets to maim and kill innocent Jewish women and children. They even consider the killing of Westerners an added bonus. Since many fundamentalists believe that "unbelievers are enemies of Allah and they will roast in hell" and that "the idolators are unclean", they believe that 'unbelievers' and 'hypocrites' are less than human and that their lives are worthless. The fundamentalists believe that it is their duty to punish the unbelievers wherever they find them.

I realize that not all Muslims are fundamentalists and that many Muslims would embrace peace. The problem is that the fundamentalists are so harsh and so ruthless that most peace seeking Muslims in the Arab world are afraid to cross them, afraid that they will be considered 'friends' of the unbelievers or 'hypocrites' and punished accordingly. Therefore, they keep quiet and the fundamentalists continue to rule the Arab world. The few Arabs that do attempt to stand up for true peace usually end up in prison or dead.

Some Arab countries are considered to have secular governments, ie: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and, as such, would presumably be free of fundamentalism interference. The fact is, none of these governments could stay in power without the assistance of, or at least the tacit approval of, the fundamentalists. Each of these countries is rife with fundamentalism, note all of the homicide bombers and terrorists that are exported from these countries. If the leaders of these countries did not have the approval of the fundamentalists, they would be assassinated and new leaders would be elected or installed. Saudi Arabia claims to be our friend and ally, yet many of their religious schools preach terrorism and a large number of terrorist leaders come from that country. Egypt has a signed peace accord with Israel, yet arms are smuggled in to the Palestinians every day from Egypt. Syria is the largest supporter of the Hezbollah group and is also one of the largest exporters of terrorists into Iraq.

The United States has been trying to "win the hearts and minds" of the Arab people for decades. We provide aid in the form of money, we gave Arafat huge sums of money in order to 'help' the Palestinians and he kept most of it for himself, we gave Hussein money to help feed his people and he used it to line his pockets and to pay the families of homicide bombers and we give billions of dollars in aid to Egypt and although they talk peace they still support terrorism. We pour money by the bucket full into Iraq and they elect an Islamic based government instead of a secular government. In addition, we pressure Israel, our only true ally in the Middle East, to give up land and security in the name of peace, even though we know that the Islamic fundamentalists will never make peace with Israel.

I may be wrong, but I don't believe that the fundamentalists will ever allow the United States to "win the hearts and minds" of the Arab people. We can and probably should make them fear us. We can't and won't make them love us. The fundamentalists will never allow their people to love us any more than they will allow 'Middle East peace'. It goes against their religious principles. They are fanatics and will fight to their last breath. As far as they are concerned if they die, fighting us, they will go to Paradise. If they live they can go on fighting the 'unbelievers' and 'hypocrites' thereby fulfilling Allah's wishes.

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18 Ways To Join The Illuminati

(category: Politics, Word count: 511)
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The idea of a secret cabal of mysterious forces that make up the Illuminati has for some a "romantic" appeal. Granted that appeal may be filled with fear but it's a concept they hold on to in spite of reason.

Most of the Paranoid Conspiracy Theorists (PCT) have a habit of jumping to conclusions based on faulty evidence and reasoning. They are so good at it they could be finalists in the Olympic Conclusion Jumping Event. One of the common errors they make is that of constantly referencing each others works without going further back to find original source material.

But I digress... .

Let's suppose that in spite of reason and logic an Illuminati does exist and you were one of the rare people who wanted to join it. By joining the Illuminati you could build an empire that increased your personal holdings while further subjugating the uninformed masses of humanity.

Let's further assume that you were not born into the so-called "blood lines of the Illuminati" to whom access is most easily granted.

There must be a way to get "in".

Here are 18 things you can do to increase your chances of becoming a part of the Illuminati.

1) Take the long view of things. Be patient. The Illuminati is, if nothing else, patient with their goal of world domination. For the Illuminati nothing is "win or lose". It's a process, a game about collecting more power, money, security and influence.

2) Start your own form of Illuminati group that models everything you know about the so-called "real" Illuminati. Your members should want nothing less that more power, money, control and domination while at the same time making their influence appear invisible.

3) Study up on what the PCT say about The Illuminati and learn as much as you can.

4) Get a degree from Harvard. While there make it your intent to join the Skull and Bones Society or the Pen and Quill.

5) Subtly incorporate Illuminati symbolism in everything that you do. This will include The Pyramid with the All Seeing Eye, the snake swallowing it's tail, the ankh and any variations to them.

6) Join the Masons and aspire up the hierarchy of degrees. As you progress up the Masonic Degree system be on alert for those who might be hiding their secret ambition for world domination.

7) Join any other occult group that has a hierarchy like the Rosicrucian's and work up the degree system within it.

8) Study the "mystery religions" and occult practices.

9) Form a coven or magical group.

10) Strategically find your way into the social circles of the elite. This may be done by joining various boards of directors or volunteer groups. Or by finding people who are 'connected' and working into their social circle.

11) While in these groups cautiously demonstrate a) your ambition and b) your inclination toward the occult.

12) Build a group of "slaves". For legal reasons it's best that these relationships be consensual and from the Dominance/submission community.

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Boots On The Moon Lunacy Run Amuck

(category: Politics, Word count: 964)
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Why would we spend an estimated $104 billion (that's billion with a 'B') to go back to a dead world when ours is dying? It seems no one can come up with a compelling reason for NASA to repeat the "been there- done that" Apollo project of the 60's and 70's that President Bush has envisioned. In fact, we have been told by NASA to think of this as "Apollo on steroids.""Yep, this ill advised and uninspired platitude (yawn) is essentially the very same space vehicle architecture of the 60's- only a bit beefier. That says it all. There is really nothing new here. If you want to experience the buzz of this cold war relic anew, I would recommend a great book (at a fraction of the $104 billion that it would cost otherwise) Apollo 11: The NASA Mission Reports by Robert Godwin. It truly is a spectacular book, complete with a double sided CD Rom with lots of raw footage of most aspects of the adventure, allowing you to relive the heady days when we trumped the Commies in the space race and brought us such tangible benefits as Tang- the last time around.

And speaking of saving a bundle, when has NASA ever been under budget on any large project? Can you say 'Space Shuttle'? Get real! Does anyone really believe it will only be $104 Billion? The irony of all this fluff is that it's likely to be a substantial drain on resources for what actually is working at NASA. The "boots on the moon" program is in contrast to recent, highly spectacular and successful NASA missions, including the Hubble Space telescope, the Mars Rovers, and Explorer missions, which have provided a treasure-trove of scientific information of our universe, while relying on comparatively cheap, safe, unmanned robotic instruments. It is apparent that such programs will have to be scaled back or eliminated in the wake of a much more expensive (with limited return on investment), and dangerous manned moon project. "Trekkies" not withstanding( and perhaps Mr. Bush), it hardly stands up to any rational justification on any level, financial or otherwise, given the serious challenges we currently face in the real world.

Is it not time that we had a truly inspirational, practicable vision for our country in meeting the challenges of our generation?. We don't have to look far. A blind man could see it in a minute. Remember last year's hurricane season? The worst on record. With melting polar caps, massive mudslides and other environmental alterations due to global warming, we just might be starting to reap the ecological whirlwind of our blatant greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels. Now is the time to have a renewed "JFK Apollo mission" on the scale, urgency and funding of the Apollo program, to eliminate all fossil fuel based power generation within this decade. Given that we live in an unstable world, such a far-reaching initiative would not only make sense from an ecological, but also from a national security standpoint as well. As James Kunstler points out in his definitive book, The Long Emergency, we have no idea how life altering our condition would be if we suddenly had a serious disruption to our dependency on fossil fuels. A renewable solution for power would go a long way to addressing these germane issues that are bearing down on all of us.

But what do we do? Go solar? Wind? While anything we can do in this arena would help, the truth of the matter is that these alternatives are relatively diffuse in their ability to harness energy and they are intermittent in nature. In other words, their "cost to calorie" ratios are not all that efficient and they are not always dependable. Probably not what we would want for the national power grid. However, imagine having a river that is over a thousand times as massive as the Mississippi, dependably running year round. This vast, untapped, renewable resource of energy would be capable of generating many giga-watts of power for our homes, computers and businesses- and lies just off our shores in the form of perpetual ocean currents. Perhaps the most famous of these "ocean rivers""is the Gulf Stream, running nearest to us around the tip of Florida and up the cost of the Carolinas. While not particularly fast moving, (just a few miles per hour) the kinetic energy of the Gulf Current is massive, being about 60 miles across. Given that ocean water is 832 more dense than the atmosphere at sea level, this translates into an equivalent hurricane force wind night and day- miles across and running over a thousand miles along our eastern shores. And this seminal approach doesn't require NASA rocket science to harness the capacity of generating large-scale sustainable electrical power. By using existing hydro turbine technology, clean, low cost power could be generated underwater, out of sight, with no greenhouse gases, and with minimal impact to sea life as the hydro turbines (albeit with high torque) would turn at just a few rpm allowing virtually unimpeded fish and silt migration.

However, like the continental rail road of the 19th century, or the Apollo project of the 20th century, this 21st century project would also be colossal in scale requiring federal funding to accomplish the task- at least at first. If we unleashed our best minds of industry and science to this endeavor, and invested the $104 billion now erroneously slated for the moon into an array of marine power generation farms, we would be addressing the challenge of this, the 21st century. Future generations might view us as wise stewards of our charge, who on our watch, with our boots well grounded on earth, made the prudent choice.

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Rwanda S Children Emerge From Shadows Of War

(category: Politics, Word count: 389)
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It's been 10 years now. Still, Rwanda's 100-day war casts a long shadow across the lives of its children. It is estimated that more than 1 million Rwandans were murdered during the 1994 war - most at the hands of machete-wielding neighbors, friends and fellow churchgoers - in a genocide rivaling the horrors of the Jewish holocaust and Cambodia's killing fields.

Though Rwandans are working hard to rebuild their broken nation, nearly every child and family has at least one relative who was murdered or who remains imprisoned because of the genocide.

Compassion International was one of the few organizations able to maintain a presence in Rwanda long before, during and after the war. Compassion is a holistic child development organization working with children living in poverty in more than 20 countries.

Today, Compassion ministers to more than 19,000 children in Rwanda, but the devastating effects of war on the children are still evident.

One such child is 9-year-old Tuyisingize Alexie. As an infant, Alexie was sent to prison with her mother who was indicted for war crimes in 1996. The young mother continues to emphatically maintain that she was not involved in the genocide.

In 2000, government officials declared that older children living in prison with their parents needed to have foster parents and attend school. The first couple Alexie lived with after prison made her do hard labor and often kept her from school. As a result, she had to repeat first grade.

The only family Alexie knows is the family she now lives with (her maternal aunt, uncle and three cousins), along with her Compassion sponsors.

Today, Alexie is a lively young girl who enjoys sports and helping at home. She is often seen laughing and playing with the other children as if they were all siblings.

Compassion staff members report that Alexie's development has improved over the past couple of years since living with her aunt's family and becoming involved in a Compassion project. She attends project activities and last semester she was second in her class. Alexie wants to finish school, become a primary school teacher and help other students like herself.

Although she misses her mother, Alexis is very thankful for her new family and the blessings of Compassion's ministry.

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Have We Issued One Blank Check To Many

(category: Politics, Word count: 517)
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With Mid Term elections just around the corner maybe it's time for us to start taking a harder look at what has happened to "OUR" civil liberties. What we once took for granted as the cornerstone of being an American would seem to be in the process of disappearing on an almost daily basis.

The White House got more than a little upset with the New York Times when it broke the news on their highly classified program of monitoring bank accounts. This story came just as the storm over "Wire Taps" had finally began to ease off. President Bush called them (the New York Times) disgraceful and said the story had caused "Great Harm" to America.

Can we or should we continue to allow "OUR" Presidents the right to use their constitutional responsibility for national security to trample over "OUR" civil liberties. Our First Amendment allows the press the freedom to question the government, Jefferson believed that democracy could easily descend into tyranny and a vigorous free press was necessary to prevent our future leaders from getting too full of themselves. We (the press) have not always got it right, but without us such matters as the Pentagon Pages, Watergate and the most recent tragedy at Haditha would never have seen the light of day.

In the coming months, we must listen closely to the debates on this subject. The government's assertion that we must leave it unhindered in how it uses its powers to protect our security could very well camouflage their desire to increase Executive Power. Justice Oliver Wendell Homes famously wrote, "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market". They (our leaders) would do well to remember, we are the Judge it is us (the people) who are the makers of "OUR" government.

Let's look at a few of the issues we are facing at the moment. We have tens of thousands of Americans still displaced after last years storms, hundreds of thousands of our elderly going without food to pay for over priced medicine and a homeless problem that would put a third world country to shame. Surely it's time we (the people) STARTED to demand solutions from our leaders to these problems. How can we put the rest of the world to rights when we can't even put our own house in order.

There's an arrogance of incumbency that comes from a 98% re-election rate. These people (our leaders) will spend billions of dollars between then to get re-elected. I have never understood why we allow these people to spend this type of money to get elected. After all for the most part these jobs less than one hundred thousands dollars a year.

If they can raise these vast amounts of money for election campaigns WHY are we still living with the same old problems ? Have we issued one blank check too many!

Have an opinion or a question you would like me to answer, then write me! Http://www.CarlHampton.com

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How Taxing Utilities Can Keep Governments In Check

(category: Politics, Word count: 546)
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Under free market, all companies can talk all they want that all the stuff they put there is for my own good. However, if the product is overpriced or if it doesn't serve my interest to get the product, I just don't buy it.

No companies, full with corruption and inefficiency, will last in the market, unless it is governments companies.

The same mechanism doesn't apply to governments program.

Indonesian governments build airplanes. It doesn't make business sense. Then every one is required to buy air plane stocks. Then governments sell the planes to Indonesians' airways companies.

Bad business gets smaller, smaller, and gone. Bad governments business gets bigger and bigger. There is no check and balance mechanism whatsoever to ensure that when governments spend money the money worth spending.

When governments build public school, people simply says that it benefits the people. Yet, how do we know that the benefits worth the cost? Governments' public school can be plagued with corruption and efficiency. What are the intensives that the school boards will care about the kids' interests when deciding curriculum?

Recently we heard costly debate on whether evolution or creationism that should be taught in school. Face it. Do we care? Most of us would rather learn business or economy so we can make big bucks.

I took graduate level Math classes straight without prerequisites and got As easily. Do I need to pay expensive teachers? Different kids have different needs and capability that properly harvested can really cut down costs of education. How do governments' regulated system adapt to it?

However, the harm of governments' program can be greatly reduced by requiring anyone that uses it to pay for the utility. That way, if governments build a pyramid and no body visits it then we know that its money wasted.

The list can go on and on. Currently poor people use bikes and the rich use car. Yet governments pay to build roads. The usage of roads is proportional to the usage of gas. There will be less cars and more bicycle if governments tax gasoline and use the money to build roads. That way, people that work at home (like me) and save a lot of cash hence getting rich faster. The only time people will buy car is if it worth's to pay for the car and the road.

The exception to this principle is on business with economic of scale. Some Nobel winner, like John Nash, argues that deviation from competitive equilibrium is inefficient and encourages governments to actively split monopoly, or even create public monopoly. Some like Milton Friedman argues that even though it is true that some economic of scale is un-efficient. However, there's nothing you can do about it. After all, the only naturally occurring worldwide monopolies nowadays are diamond monopolies, which will be toppled if it goes too much. The market failures fail to exceed typical governments' failure.

Hence, I have no strong opinion.

If our country is full with corruption then cost for governments' failure is huge. So market mechanism is the way. If corruption rate is relatively low, we may be able to play around safely with some governments' intervention. Watch out for what Friedman says.

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