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A rather small, but useful, political dictionary

Author: Philippe
Posted: 20 Jan 2005

Well, as some of you may know, I'm currently unemployed. These things happen, you see. The economy and whatnot. So, lately, I've had a lot more free time to play around on the internet, work on a few TTA projects, write articles for *gasp* other magazines (ones that pay me in malt liquor), and also look around on various message boards.

What you might not know about me is that I follow politics very closely. I feel that it's important to do and it provides me with hours of entertainment, watching people argue vehemently for whatever they heard on talk radio that morning.

There does, however, seem to be a little confusion about some things. Differences in terms that people just don't quite grasp, that is.

As such, I thought I'd help out with a few terms and facts (sorry, guys, this column won't be as funny as most of the rest of the columns I write -- assuming you think the rest of them are funny). Anyway, here we go.

1. The national debt vs. the federal deficit

Yes there IS a difference, and it's a big one.

The federal deficit is the one-year total negative difference between what the government brought in from your taxes and what it spent.

For example, say the taxes brought 70 dollars in. If the government spent 100 dollars that year, we would have a one-year deficit ("federal deficit") of 30 bucks.

The national debt, or federal debt, is the amount of money that the U.S. government has borrowed since the beginning of time (or since the beginning of the U.S., if you want to look at it that way). It's a cumulative effort of all the presidents and governments we've ever had. So, we would add our 30-dollar deficit to the trillions of dollars we currently have in debt.

So, when you hear that the deficit is shrinking, let's not all get our panties in a twist and call Bush a great economist. Personally, I'm worried about the debt.

2. Socialism vs. Communism

Now, in my liberal views, I like the idea of socialized medicine. For my views I've been called a communist who deserves to die (a bit harsh, I feel). But I feel bad for people who misuse the two terms (I especially feel bad for people who think that socialism and communism is the same thing -- oddly more people than not these days).

Socialism is a system of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

Communism is a theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.

Now, admittedly, Communism on paper almost always turns into Socialism in the real world because Communism doesn't work. Still, the differences there are big.

3. Democracy vs. Republic

Admittedly, these two terms are both complex to describe in a sentence or two, but I'll just talk about one big difference.

A democracy is controlled by the people. Majority rules in a democracy and everyone has the vote for who leads it.

A republic is very similar, but a majority doesn't matter worth a shit in most cases. As the electoral college elects our president and not a majority of the U.S., and since we don't elect the electoral college, we live in a republic and not a democracy.

Those are the definitions. And now just some quick facts:

1. 52 percent of the country did not vote for Bush to be president. As only 30 percent of the country voted, then about 16 percent of the U.S. voted for Bush. Weird, huh?

2. Germany did NOT start World War I (that one's been bothering me lately and making me feel that most people in this country are idiots).

3. Yes, we bailed France out of the World Wars, but they bailed US out of the Revolutionary War, so props to them.

That's all for now. Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps in future discussions (read: flamewars) you might be participating in.

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