Backtalk: The Myth of Checks and Balances

Backtalk: The Myth of Checks and Balances
Bevin Chu
November 20, 2008

Special Posting for Mr. Christopher DiFranco’s Social Studies Class at Georgetown Middle/High School in Georgetown, Massachusetts.

Georgetown Middle/High School, Georgetown, Massachusetts

See: The Myth of Checks and Balances

Additional Closely Related Articles:

See: The Non-Aggression Axiom

See: Economic Selections, not Democratic Elections

See: Frogs and Fraud, a Fable

See: How Democracy Really Works

See: The Founding Fathers’ Next Step


77 responses to “Backtalk: The Myth of Checks and Balances

  1. I read the article you wrote entitled,”The Separation is Illusory, The Power is Real” and it was very informing. I had never thought about how the government is similar to the “Mafia”, like in the aspect that they rob the people by taxing them. I guess in a way the only true difference between a government and the mob is a flag! Although this is true I dissagree with your opinion of checks and balances. In the U.S. government each branch has it’s own set of checks and balances that are enumerated, without these our government would be chaos. Also it is writen that resistance is futile against the government, in many ways this is very true, but resistance could happen. A rebellion called Shays’ Rebellion in early America caused the government to be dissrupted, even though this was a small rebellion it have it’s affects.Thank you for your opinions about the U.S. government.-J.H.

  2. Wow! Your article “the myths of checks and balances” was a real eye opener to me. your comparisons of our government to the mafia and microsoft gave me a completely different view of America’s government. However, although most everything you said is spot-on true, I believe our government is not the same as the mafia or bug-riden computer software. You compared the three branches to “three divisions” of microsoft, talking about how they can’t be “separate and Independent” since they are all part of microsoft and in the same way our government’s branches are not separate and independent. I believe this is not true because that “microsoft” that unifies the division in relation to the government’s branches is America as a whole, including us. that’s not a weakness, thats a strength. Also, although the government might be strikingly similar to a crime family, its working for us. its been over 200 years since the constitution passed and we haven’t been oppressed(at least in mass scale) quite yet. sure we get taxed and the government has lots of power but what country can say otherwise and still have all of the rights, freedoms, and luxuries we do? Maybe you’re right and we will all be slaves to tyrant America in a few decades but for now i think we have more important things to think about than the faults of our relatively successful government.Still a fascinating article though :)-D.S.

  3. Dear JH, DS, Thanks for reading. Be sure to listen to the podcast I’ve just added to this post. It’s entitled The Non-Aggression Axiom, and underscores how all monopolistic governments, including democracies, resort to naked coercion to make us “belong” to them, and how we truly are not free under such systems.

  4. I read your article “The Myths of Checks and Balances”. It really showed me new ideas on government that we definitely do not learn in school, like you said in the article. That does not mean that i agree with these though. I found your comparisons to the mafia and Microsoft very interesting and eye-opening, but i do not agree. Though the comparisons seem similar, a notorious crime family and a computer software are not similar to government, so they are not very easy to see distinct similarities between. They may function similarly, but the function for very different reasons. If separation of powers and checks and balances are really “firewalls” when “given enough time, burns right through” why has our government not failed yet? it has been thriving for over 200 years! Thank you for opening my eyes to this new outlook on government. Even though I do not agree, it was good to read about your ideas.-ND

  5. Dear Bevin Chu,I recently read an article of yours called “A reluctant Anarrchist”. Although it was interesting to read another person’s point of view on the government of the united states, I unfortunately found a few flaws in it as well. One of these flaws would that you stated that “Democracy is a form of dictatorship”. I found this statement very flawed because although they are both forms of government, a dictatorship’s power is put into the hands of one person alone and a democracy’s power is put mainly into the hands of the poeple. Although I may not agree with what you have posted, I still found it interesting to hear another persons perspective. Thank you.-VW

  6. Dear ND, Actually, our government has already failed. It is well on its way to becoming a police state. Especially since 9/11. It’s merely that we are like frogs in a pot. The temperature is turned up gradually enough haven’t noticed. But thanks for reading. And please keep reading about this subject, even if you disagree. It’s important. Bevin

  7. I read your article, “The Myth of Checks and Balances.” This article was very interesting to me in the respect of is our system of checks and balacnes working? When you stated that our government is like a “mafia,” I agree with DS in the sense that it is not. Our governement is not corrupt and its citizens have individual freedoms that allow them to be their own person. The government does not decide what I will do today, I do. Sure, a United States citizen has to pay taxes, but the money benefits the country. If The United States was under attack, in order to protect ourselves we need money. Children need to receive a proper education so past mistakes will not happen agian. This education needs funding and it comes from the government. Since the Founding Fathers created the Constitution, any rebellion that has occured has been put down. If these redellions have been put down, then something must be working. In your article, you stated that “…the president is an elective dictator, the legislature is a debating society, and the judiciary is a rubber stamp.” You also stated that “Real world experience has demonstrated that overtime, the executive invaribly co-opts the judiciary and marginalizes the legislature.” How can this be true if a series of checks are placed on the executive branch? If the executive branch vetos a bill, the legislative can ovderride that veto. If the executive branch appoints judges that the judical branch does not agree with, the judical branch refuses the appointments. The executive branch can not be a dictator with multiple restrictions from the other branches. Yes, our government has some faults, but everything that occurs has faults. -MR

  8. Your Article “The Myth of Checks and Balances” is a differenet view of checks and balances then I have seen. Some of your points I do not believe are true. I agree with DS and MR that our government is not like the mafia. It is not a overly powerful group. I also do agree with your statement that the executive branch mainly controls the government. Checks and balances keep this branch in check with things like presidential override. The legislative and judicial branches are just as important, and checks and balances do help.-LH

  9. Dear Bevin Chu, All your articles have some sort of meaning and are very influential.I have just read an article of yours titled “Why the Executive Branch always becomes the Government”. I agree with you that the executive branch is the “highest ranking officals” of the three branches. I also agree with you that the other branches provide checks and balances to protect the rights of the citizens. I disagree with you with the thought that the executive branch “monopolizes” the power. Our government has checks and balances so not one person can take too much control of our government. When you added the quote that President Bush said that he is the decider and he decides what is best, I agree with him, partly because he is the president, and he knows what to do. The citizens of the US elect a president to enforce laws, and presidents have the interest of the people at heart. On your other articles, I do not agree with what you said including the idea that our government is like the mafia. I agree with LH, that it is not a overly strong bunch. All three branches are just as important, and no branch holds more “important powers” then another. If not for all the three branches in our government, and the checks and balances, then our government would be unsure and unsteady of the future. Although I do not agree with some of your thoughts, it was still a very informing and moving article. Thank you.-GD-

  10. Mr. Chu,You made an interesting comparison between the government and the Mafia but forgot some very important differences, many of which occur in everyday life. How about the roads we drive on, the schools that educate us, the water we drink? We may pay taxes to the government, but unlike the Mafia, they do not just pay officials but also get us our everyday needs. The people of Massachustts recently voted to keep the income tax for a reason. You also stated that there is no difference between democracy and dictatorship. If this is so, then why does change, whether good or bad, continue to happen within our country and with our laws? In Massachusetts dog racing has been banned and marijuana decriminalized, and in California equal marrige rights have been legalized and then banned. Countless other acts, laws, and amendments have been passed since this country started, and by whom? The people. If the government were so omnipotent as you say, then how could this have happened? The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy the people have power, and are able to influence the government and create change, and in a dictatorship, one person decides everything that goes on and the people can’t do anything about it.

  11. Mr.Chu, Sorry, but i do not agree with your perspective on how you see how the government works with the system of checks and balances. I do not think that the government is like a mafia because a mafia does not really do anything in return for you. An government gives you many things back like protection and other services that many people need in our country. Our founding fathers set up our government so it would not be tyrannical like they thought the British government was to them. Otherwise i thought the article was very well written and i enjoyed reading what you thought on the system of checks and balances. Thank you,-W.I.-

  12. I read “The Myth of Checks and Balances” and it really showed me a whole new view of government. I was so used to being taught about the positives of checks and balances and it was really strange to read a negative view on it. While I see you point, I think that the comparison to the Mafia is a little bit of a stretch. For the most part, our government does a good job at protecting us, especially compared to many other governments around the world. We do have to pay taxes, but we also get a lot in return, like public education and welfare. You mentioned that you thought we should have competing PDAs but I think this would eventually lead to a weaker, less united country. Despite our different opinions, I still liked reading you article.Thanks!-MRM

  13. Dear Mr. Chu,Your article, “The Myth of Checks and Balances” allowed me to think about our government differently than we are taught in school. We are taught about the origins of government and what was wrong with it when it was first established. But we do not talk about how our government could be flawed in the present day too often. But i do have to disagree with you when you say that “separating the powers doesn’t really result in separate and independence bodies checking and balancing each other.” We have had this system of government for a while and everything has always seemed to flow pretty smoothly. I believe that the three branches of our government do a good job of keeping each other in check. There have not been many cases of one branch becoming stronger. I also do not agree with how you compared our governemtn to the “mafia” and how some citizens are just like “battered wives who belive they can’t live without their abusive husbands…” to me, these comparisons are a little extreme and do not relate to the way our government treats us. One final thing, is that when you state, the “champions of freedom and human right comple us to subscribe to its products and services-or else.” I do not think that our government threatens us into liking it and going along with it. Even though this government is not perfect, without it, we would live very chaotic and unfair lives. But in the end, even though we have different opinions, I like how your article made me think about real life government and how it affects some people and not just the facts we take down in a notebook every day.Thank you,EF

  14. Bevin Chu,I really enjoyed reading your article for I have never really been exposed to a different view of our government other than how the three branches are fully equal and help balance the powers of government. Your article gave me a whole different perspective on how some people feel. Seperation Of Powers, even though part of one government, is not always inseperable as stated in this article however. Sure they all work together in one way or another, but it is not like the same people control all three branches. Seperation of Powers and Checks and Balances are strategically set up so not one branch will be able to take full control of power. The other branches, with different purposes and ideas, will see the beginning of corruption and have power to stop and take actoin to make things right. Also, taxes are not necessarily crimes either. Taxpayers dont have a say about paying taxes, however I agree with MR on how taxes keep the nation going. Without taxes, certain things would not be able to be achieved, for example a sufficent education for all children. In addition, the executive branch does include the President who is obviously one of the most powerful people in America. Not everything the President says however, goes. There are also some things that the President really has no say about. For example, the President does not have the power to declare war which would inevitable affect the lives of everyone in the United States. Overall, your article states how the executive branch has “limitless power” and respectfully, I believe this is not true. Even though I do disagree with most of your ideas, your article truely did make me stop and think about the truth.Thanks, M.D.

  15. Mr. Chu,I read your article, “The Myth of Checks and Balances” and I agree on some points. In the subarticle “Why the Executive Branch always becomes The Government” I agree with you. The executive branch has the highest ranking officials and does hold most of the power. George Bush’s quote further promotes your argument. Although I agree on that aspect, I do not agree with your statement as the government being like a mafia. As W.I. said, the government does give us protection and services, which I agree with. The founding fathers that created the Constitution were not trying to be tyrannical, but provide a needs to keep each branch in check, unlike British monarchy.Overall, your article brought a new light to the system of checks and balances and it was interesting to see a different take on it. Thank you!-S.F.-

  16. Mr. Chu, Similar to many others above, i read your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances” as well. Even though i do not agree with you, i felt that you had many strongs aspects in your arguements as well as in your writing in general. You used words that are easily understood to more than just a political expert, you used relevent, current, and connective ideas and phrases such as the mafia examples. However, i feel that some of your arguements are a bit of a stretch. For example, when comparing the government to the mafia, you said the only difference was one has a flag. I know you meant it in a comical way, but the fact of the matter is, their two totally different things. The mafia kills people, ruins lives, and is a dangerous mob. Our government might have people killed as you said, but its not our people, its terrorists and other similar groups. Our government does not think us to be their prey, in my opinion. The executive branch can not take total power because every move has to be CHECKED AND APPROVED(checks and balances)and in order to be done and it is approved by citizens like you and me who elect normal citizens who speak and act on behalf of us and the rest of their state or area in which they came from and who will allow or not allow the executive branch to precede with thier actions unless it is reasonable and beneficial to the whole country. Also, it is not like the government can create a gang or anything within itself because officials are being removed and re-elected and brought into office every year.Overall, I think that the system of checks and balances works. However, I think you did a good job relating your arguements, even if wrong in my eyes, to events and circumstances that we, non-polital experts, can understand.Thank you, -M.M.

  17. Mr. Chu i read your article and i think it is very interesting, and i agree with many of the arguments you make. I think that your argument about taxes and the government robbing you at gunpoint is particularly interesting and valid as well. The government could be acting like the mafia in a sense. But I also agree with W.I. and that the government returns the favor by providing protection, or at the least the illusion of protection and thats all that is needed to prevent anarchy. I also thought your comparison of citizens to an abused wife was interesting. I never had pictured American government as corrupt or abusive and us just taking the abuse without question until now. This article has made me see that such is possible and an illusion of stability has been cleverly set by the press and they could be lying to us without us ever knowing.

  18. Mr.Bevin Chu,I have just read your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances”. Reading your article has portrayed the three branched system in a whole different perspective i never would have thought of. Thinking that the president is nothing more than an elected dictator, is an odd way to think about it but, actually kind of true. Another strong point you have hilighted was that the branches need the checks and balances so they do not “gang” up on the citizens of America. I agree with you on this because with just one branch of power there would be abuse and ultimately one group ganging up on the people of America. I would have to say that your argument analogy about Microsoft and the government being the same monopoly wise, brought my views of government to a new light. I appreciated the different views on governmental powers.Thank you,A.Du

  19. Dear Students of Mr. Christopher DiFranco’s Social Studies Class, Thank you all so much for your highly civil responses, both those that agree and those that disagree. Mr. DiFranco has taught you well. There is nothing wrong with dissent. One must stand by what one believes. But one can disagree without being disagreeable. To your enormous credit, you have done just that. You are to be commended. Forgive me for responding collectively, but the (highly welcome) number of comments has left me unable to respond as rapidly as I would like. Allow me to invite you to read one or two additional articles closely related to this topic. I have added the links to this article. They will fill out some of what I have said more fully. They may answer some of your objections as well. Sincerely, Bevin Chu

  20. Dear Mr. Chu,I read your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances” and it was very eye opening. I never thought of the government this way, simply because as a high school student, I’ve never been taught about the dark side of the government. Your different comparisons help make your points clearer on how corrupt our government really is. I especially liked the Microsoft comparison because it is very true. Our government is kind of like a monopoly. But, I do not completely agree with the statement “the only difference between the Mafia and the government is a flag.” I do agree that they do unfairly take money from people through taxes, like the mafia unfairly takes money from people, but the government does not do it in such a violent way. I do agree that both do many things with force. The government does many things that are corrupt and not right, and as citizens we do not think twice about it. Thank you for giving me a whole new perspective on our government. R.S.

  21. Dear Mr. Chu,I just finished reading your article, and I have to say that I do not agree with some of the points that you made. I believe that the checks and balances system is a secure way of keeping our government under control, that does not allow any one branch to have too much power. Along with what MD said, the same people do not control different braches. Everyone may be working together, however i believe that they are working in a way that keeps each branch under control. I also agree with MR that taxes keep the nation going because the country needs some way to bring in revenue in oder to provide protection and programs for its people. Without taxes, where could the money possible come from? Although I disagree with most of the points in the article, I must say that you make a very strong argument about how the government is like the mafia and “the only difference is a flag.” It definitely is a different way of looking at our national government, and in a somewhat twisted way, could potentially be true. However, the only problem is that if the government is truly like this and is really this bad, how come it has lasted our nation for over 200 years? Even though I disagree with most of the ideas discussed in this article, I think that you did a good job of giving people a different way of viewing our federal government.M. Nutter

  22. Mr. Chu,I must say your comparison of the “monopolistic state” and abusive husbands is a little extreme. However, after reading your arguments I feel you make a good point. Another point I found enlightening was how you mentioned over time, “the executive invariably co-opts the judiciary and marginalizes the legislature”. An example of this is that the US Congress holds the power to formally declare war. As of late, Congress has not declared war since 1941. Despite this, the executive branch of the government is currently taking military action and calling it the War On Terror. This fact helps secure your point that over time the executive branch becomes more powerful than the other two. Finally, although I disagree with some of the statements regarding how different forms of government are inadequate, I did enjoy being enlightened about a different side of the argument of checks and balances. Thank you. ~M.P.

  23. Dear Mr. ChuI have just read your articles on “The Myth of Checks and Balances”. I thought you did a grat job providing examples. My favorite was the experiment dealing with Microsoft. It was a good parallel to separation of powers because it shows that not ony does the government need restrictions and regulations, but so do many everday buissneses. I noticed you refered to the government robbing individuals. i do not think this is the case because they use the tax money that they recieve to fund common uses for the citizens. I really enjoyed your views on the government.Thank you,J.D.

  24. Dear Mr. ChuI read your article, “The Myth of Checks and Balances,” and I believe that you made some very good points to back up your statement. Although I believe that your analogy about the government, taking money from citizens “at gunpoint” is a little overexaggerated, it made me change my perspective of taxes because it is true. The IRS does force people to pay taxes. I feel as though your historical examples helped to add structure to what you were saying. I also believe that comparing and contrasting between “constitutional republicanism” and democracy and how, given time, they can lead into each other. The only point that I do not agree with is the atatement about how all three-branch governments are the same. While they may have been based on the same ideas, each one had its differences, even if they are not great. Overall, though, the article was very eye-opening and informative.Thank you,RF

  25. Mr. Bevin ChuI read your article and it was very interesting to get a different point of view on government. I didn’t agree with you that paying taxes is like being robbed, some of that money comes back to you in your community and schools. I do agree that the executive branch has more power than was intended for them to have under the separation of powers. Your example with government and Microsoft helped me see how much power it really has. I liked your comparison with the separation of powers and a firewall, but I didn’t see how a democracy is a form of dictatorship. The way you wrote your article made it easy for me to understand your view of government, even if I don’t agree on everything. It was good to hear an opinion of government that I don’t hear very often in school.Thank you,S.E.

  26. Dear Mr. ChuI have also read your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances” The point you made about Microsoft was eye opening to me. If Microsoft did own all software they could corrupt the business and sell everything overpriced and at a low quality. I don’t view our government that way. I don’t see any level of the government corrupting us. Also, i think it is important for us to pay taxes because that is how the government is able to fund for things. Yes, taxes are forced upon but they are necessary. Maybe, the three branches are working together and the checks aren’t really being used fully. From where i am it looks the government is doing its job to protect our natural rights. Thank you for your opinion. I have just started to see that there could be something wrong with this system of government and maybe there are some ways to improve this. -MO

  27. Mr. Chu,Although I may not wholeheartedly agree with the particular view you take throughout “The Myth of Checks and Balances”; I will say that your article is very well written with an influential undertone that could sway many open minds. Your use of different negative examples to point out the flaws in government really helped backup your point. The Microsoft analogy definitely made me think about the government in a new light. Reading about the critical view you take may not have necessarily given me an opinion about the government, but it certainly made me consider the negatives as well as the positives. -J.S.

  28. Dear Mr. Bevin Chu, After reading your article, “The Myth of Checks and Balances” I had a new point of view of the United States’ “limited” government. I can see what you mean when you say that “most of us were indoctrinated with this myth in junior/high school in social studies class” and I believe that I would fall under this as well. One point in the article that I especially liked was your analogy between the United States government and Microsoft. I never thought of the government as having a monopoly over the country. You also make an interesting point when you refer to the fact that three different branches doesn’t make them separate from each other as a whole. The only question I had for this was how would you create more than one government or a division between two or more parties in government to effectively govern the United States so that there wasn’t a “monopoly”? If this were acomplished, then maybe there wouldn’t be an “electative dictatorship”. I believe what we need is a “real” separation of powers so that the branches of government don’t percieve themselves as part of the same government (as they do now). Another thing I liked about your article was how you referred to US citizens as the “battered wives” of the mafia. While it seemed kind of funny to me, I realized that it was somewhat true. I agree that many people believe that the current government in the United States is the best one and that it is irreplaceable. However, I think that this goes back to high school social studies when the idea was instilled in their minds. It’s similar to back during the United States Revolution when colonists were fighting for independence while some of them still believed that a king was the best way to go. Just because some people believe that a certain government is the best doesn’t mean that they victimize “fellow citizens who know better”. Thank you,VN

  29. Mr. ChuI read your article “The Myths of Checks and Balances” and I thought it was very well written. This aticle in particular opened my eyes about the points you made, because you do not see that many Americans writing and picking out the negative aspects of America and/or its government too often. Even though you made solid arguments and wrote this article very persuasively, I disagree with some of the points you made. “This government perpetuates its existence by robbing individuals at gunpoint. It refers to these acts of armed robbery as “taxation,” as if calling its crime by some other name absolved it of guilt.” This was your statement in regards to taxation, comparing it as a robbery of the citizens by the government. Even though the government enforces the tax on the citizens, this shouldn’t make them the bad people. They are citizens too and they have to pay their taxes as well. This money actually befits our country in the end by going into our schools and communities. I also agree with D.S. and N.D. that our government had lasted for over 200 years and that is proof in itself that our government is not corrupt. It is proof that this system works because it has been just because of how long its been around. However, ill have to agree your point about how the executive does hold more power than the other two branches, as M.P. stated.Thank you for writing this and for allowing me to look at our own government in a new light and perspective.-O.P.

  30. Dear Mr. Chu, After reading your article it is clear to me that you have picked up on the fact that if the United States is not run by people with good morals it the separations will not work. You’re right the government is a lot like a Mafia but more in the way of who runs it rather than stealing money. First off if the government is run by the right person without the wrong motives it will work perfectly as it has for over two hundred years. Second the U.S. government doesn’t “rob individuals at gunpoint” because by being part of this nation that is a duty you must pay to keep your country free and able to survive. Now when it comes to the people being chosen for the U.S. political positions yes we do need a new system because it seems that this one is becoming somewhat outdated(the 2000 election issue). Again i go back to morals of the nominates and morals of the people. One to have a want to keep this country alive and two to be a part of it’s stability. Your article was a very good read and i urge you to continue writing and will gladly read on.

  31. Thank you everyone who posted their thoughts on this article, and a special thanks to Mr. Bevin Chu for taking the time to re-post this article and for giving feedback to some of these posts.- Mr. DiFranco

  32. Dear Students of Mr. DiFranco’s Social Studies Class, It has been a privilege to exchange ideas with such a bright group of young people. I remember clearly what my writing was like back in high school. In all honesty it was not up to your remarkably high level. It is surely a testament to both your intellect and to Mr. Christopher DiFranco’s teaching ability. I wish you all the best in your academic endeavors. And please come back any time! Yours in Liberty, Bevin Chu

  33. Bevin,All governments (that exist now) are by definition monopolistic; you can’t (realistically) pick which one you join, and you can’t opt out of joining any one at all. I get the feeling that you’re more of a left-libertarian than anything else, which I think is great. But it seems necessary to denounce the (coercive) state as a concept more than any particular form of government or particular state. Yes?

  34. Dear 阿牛, All existing governments ARE monopolistic. That’s why none of them are “good.” Some are merely worse than others. Based on the amount of taxpayer money embezzled, the DPP government has been worse than the KMT. But as I said, no government is “good.” I don’t care about what we have now. I want what’s right. I want a system that respects individual rights and individual liberty. No system today, left or right, does that. All systems today force you to belong to them, at gunpoint. To see what I advocate for China, including both the mainland and Taiwan regions, see my article: are radical, leading edge concepts. Most conformist mainstream intellectuals can’t wrap their minds around them. I’m not surprised that they can’t even allow themselves to contemplate them. These concepts are way outside their intellectual comfort zone. Nevertheless I put them out there, for those who have genuinely open minds. Bevin

  35. Mr. Chu
    As a person who also has little faith in the way the American Government is run, I found myself agreeing with a lot of your statements. The fact that the checks and balances on our government are merely illusory is something that I found quite interesting. The executive branch can't do something, only because we say they can't. What's to stop them from doing it anyway? The people's only way of stopping them is saying “because I said so”. There is no way to test the morals of these politicians because as everyone knows following the recent 2016 election, politicians lie. However you must take into account that although this government is flawed and built only on beliefs, it has been working for many years, and is much more stable than some governments out there. -EO

  36. Mr. Chu,
    After reading your article I find myself agreeing with many of your points but the difference would be the extent to which I believe them. “Invariably usurps any and all powers delegated to the other branches of a monopolistic state.”, I agree with your point about the executive branch having a “monopoly” on militant forces, but what I think you should take a look at is the powers of the legislative branch. Although most people think that the executive branch is the most power there is a case to be made that it is the legislative branch. The legislative branch has many loopholes that could in-turn effect the everyday life of the citizen. Say if the legislative branch proposes a law that benefits certain groups rather than the majority of people. If the president were to veto the law the legislative branch can then override it, if the judiciary branch calls the law unconstitutional then congress can propose an amendment to the constitution. Although this may not be how it works in every government that uses separation of powers it's the case in America and that's what makes me believe the system is flawed. The executive branch has the militant force to take over but the legislative branch has powers granted to them through checks and balances that allow them to corrupt the system with laws that benefit themselves or certain groups.-CP

  37. Dear Mr. Chu
    I thought you had numerous interesting points but I feel as though you left some main aspects out. Such as the competition of a democracy. There is no way a democracy can be like the mafia because in the mafia everybody is on the same page. In democracy there are many varying political views causing clash and less collusion between the three branches. Using your analogy, democracy is a family that is very different and has different views which makes them disagree on many topics such as taxation and war. Also, I think you are underestimating the power of the legislative branch. The executive is more of a face of the Governent with much less power than the legislative branch. Since the legislative are all representitives they should work on behalf of the people, although they don't always do as such. Either way the people are being represented usually by people with similar views. When you mentioned a monopoly on services provided by the government such as military that is not always the case. For example, companies can sell items to the military which they need to operate. Without a Government, as history shows, people come to power anyways without any separation as a dictator. But as displayed in your post there are some flaws in checks in balances such as corruption but overall I think our Governent is doing a much better job than the mafia because it provides us with vital nessisities and allows us to express our opinion. -H.E.

  38. Dear Mr. Chu,
    Your article on the myths of checks and balances was very eye opening to read. It was interesting to read many valid points about our government. I never thought to question whether or not checks and balances are effective, because in school we have always been taught what they supposedly do. Our teachers in the past only educate us on what the responsibilities of each branch are, but not how well they do their jobs, which is what matters the most. I agree with some of the points that you made about how the government is given a monopoly and even though they say there are checks and balances put in place, some of them really don'do do anything. Also, although its never been taught to me, I think it could be true that some of the checks and balances given to each branch may just be an illusion. However, I do disagree with the part that says the government is just the mafia with a flag. Although some of the checks and balances may not be completely effective, our government in the United States is very complex in trying to achieve their goal of helping the general welfare. Each of the branches of government has a separate role in representing the public and they all need to do their jobs in order for the government as a whole to function. All of the branches are said to have equal power, but there is a little bit of a hierarchy between them because some branches are given more important powers than others. Although the United States government is not perfect, it is overall effective and our country would likely not function without it. -J.D.

  39. Dear Mr. Bevin Chu
    I, too a large degree, agree with your beliefs about the nature of the American government, and while I disagree with your conclusions of “market anarchy” as it states in your description, I agree that the way the system is set up now will not perpetually continue to work.The rules our government has set for themselves, never truly need to be followed, because in the end they get the option to change the law. Might makes right and the USA sure does have might, so in the end, unless the entire rest of the planet comes together(which isn't exactly LIKELY), they can do virtually whatever they want. I am curious what takes you to the conclusion of “market anarchy”, and why this is the solution you decided upon. The truth in your belief that the separation of powers is merely falsified is accurate in my opinion, because even if you accept that the power is evenly separated within the government, that still would imply that the people have little to no share in these powers, which I personally find unacceptable. In an ideal society, all of this would change, but I think the more important question is how.I may add another comment later if there is something else that I feel is important to add, but in the end, I believe your article was mostly correct and well written. -JO

  40. In reading “The Myth of Checks and Balances” it was the first time I had read about the negative side of government in regards to checks and balances. Throughout middle and high school we were always taught about the ingenious idea of separation of powers and checks and balances that we owe the success of our government to. We learned how it was the key to the United State’s successful democracy. Even when it was explained to us, the system seemed logical where power was divided in a way that each branch could watch over the others, and no single branch could become corrupt. However, in this article they mentioned that this system of separation of powers was just illusory to us, it didn't truly exist. The article brought up some interesting points that I have not heard or thought of before. How was it possible that our government was all the negative and bad things being said yet we still run smoothly and get along? When our democracy was compared to a mafia that’s when I began disagreeing with the arguments being made. Our government is very different than a mafia. The article argued that the citizens were like the victims as we are forced to pay taxes,but that is not the case at all. Our taxes come back and pay for necessities we use and need in everyday life, the government uses them to give back to us. Also, I found it interesting that they said all power is absolute power, and a democracy is bound to become a dictatorship. When they said we elect presidents they mentioned this is still a type of dictatorship, as we elect someone who is the highest rank in power. I don't agree with this idea that the president would be capable of becoming a full dictator though because of all the other branches that separate the power. The president is not the only person in charge there are many people surrounding him. They all are there to keep each other in check as the president can't just do whatever he wants. Though it may appear that way, I think power is actually separated just not in the physical way we would think. However, that being said it isn't just an illusion either. Power is separated or shared so that no one or small group can make their own decisions that would affect the whole country. Overall, this article exposed me to the many more views and ideas on government and helped me see the other side that i should explore in more depth.

  41. Before reading the “Myth of checks and balances” I understood that our government was flawed and after reading the article I have a better understanding of why it is flawed. I slightly agree with some of what Bevin Chu talks about. For example when he he refers to the government as a pack of wolves and us the taxpayers as the flock of sheep, we do in some way act as a prey to the more powerful body. I do think that the government could do more for the people then they do definitely. There is a lot that can approve and hopefully over time will improve. I don't agree with the idea that the executive branch ends up having the more unlimitled power out of the three branches. I feel that the roles of the executive branch like the president really don't have much of a say in what happens in the government. I do feel that some if not most of the checks and balances do balance each other out in some way. We have the veto's and the ratification that goes on in the branches and no its not perfect but what in this world actually is perfect. I think this government works for where we are in the world today and who knows what the future will bring.

  42. Reading “Myth of checks and balances” really changed my view on our government. In high school, students never hear about the flaws or bad parts about our democracy. However, the author of this article showed these flaws, mainly the “illusion” of separation of powers and checks and balances. He notes that separation of powers is a lie, and that our democracy is “a form of dictatorship”. Throughout the article, he proves that separation of powers is what makes American citizens believe that we don't live under a dictatorship, but the executive is a dictator. Just the thought that Americans, in a way, live under a “hidden dictatorship” is scary. This really changed how I look at government

  43. I read your article on why checks and balances are a myth and you do bring up some good points but I disagree with most of what you said in the article. for example when you said that the executive branch ends up with all the power I do not think that is the case. The executive branch actually has less power than the other branches they cant make laws only propose them, they cant even control tax that power lays with the legislative branch. The president can even be impeached by the legislative branch. I also strongly disagree with the comparison of the government to the mafia the mafia kills and tortures to get what they want for themselves. The government may take money from the citizens but its necessary to have a strong economy and people end up benefiting from it more than they suffer from it. We tried having no tax with the articles of confederation and well you know how that ended up it. The government helps the people and the only reason that they exist is to protect us from numerous things. The government certainly isn't perfect and they could be doing more for the people like supporting the poor more but its been working and it still is so why try to change a system that works.


  44. Dear Mr. Chu,
    This article was very enlightening and it really opened my eyes to the issues with the Checks and Balances system in our government. When I first began reading this article I was very surprised because many of your ideas had never crossed my mind. I struggled to understand the idea about the Checks and Balances system being merely an illusion or the result of “wishful thinking”. Although the Microsoft Word analogy was very good and aided me in seeing your perspective I still don't agree. I think our government has survived too long to contain the various problems you claim it has and the government has operated fairly smoothly in my opinion. Many of the analogies in the article went too far and I couldn't see the relevance anymore. Comparing the government to a mafia and us citizens to “abused wives who rationalizes away their husband's abusive treatment of them” is where I began to disagree. I don't consider our president a dictator because all of our country's power is not just in their hands. A dictator is someone who has obtained power by force and rules with total power of a country. Our president certainly does not take power by force through the long election process they endure. They also do not have total power because the Congress and the Supreme Court are specifically there to stop the president from ruling like a dictator by limiting the president's power. Another issue that was discussed that I don't truly agree with was taxes. In the article is was put that the citizens are victimized by paying taxes and were even compared to a flock of sheep getting harassed by a pack of wolves. Even though no one loves paying their taxes it's a necessity and I wouldn't consider taxpayers as victims for ultimately paying money that in the big picture goes towards their needs. After reading this I can see how the separation of powers aren't as separated as I was taught to believe but I still think there is enough separation so that the power of our government is not all in the hands of one person or branch. Although I did not agree with a lot of the content in this article it was still fascinating to learn about a different perspective, one that I've never been informed of until now. This article has inspired me to take a closer look at our government and to research to get a greater understanding of the system that governs our lives.

  45. After reading the article it has become apparent to me that the system of Checks and Balances is making government more corrupt than it is fair. Despite calling the three branches of government separate from each other their powers are in fact intertwined making them more like one large body. If government is one large body then they can not check one another properly and help protect the citizens rights. Rather they act more as a mafia stealing the peoples money with their insanely high tax rates. The only difference between the government and the mafia however is the flag which Americans pledge to everyday. Americans seem to be brainwashed by the government thinking they are helping them survive when in reality they are thieves stealing the money of American workers. This article has helped show me that the U.S government is not exercising checks and balances as it was intended to be used. Government has become too interlocked and related that the three branches are not separate, but rather one mind.

  46. Dear Mr.Chu,
    This article truly explored the negative side of Checks and Balances that nobody seems to talk about. When I started to read the article, some of the thoughts you touched never came across my mind and were very different from what we are taught in school. I couldn't quite understand why you think that democracy is “illusory”. You then went on to describe how, “This government perpetuates its existence by robbing individuals at gunpoint. It refers to these acts of armed robbery as “taxation,” as if calling its crime by some other name absolved it of guilt.” Taxation is a necessary action for a country to survive. I can see why you may think that exorbitant amounts of taxation can be compared to that, but taxes are important in providing people with certain amenities. Since taxes are in place,schools and libraries are open to the public as well as the services of maintaining roads can be provided. Later on in your argument, you stated that democracy was inevitably a dictatorship. How is a democracy a dictatorship if there is no force by a military to bring in an executive as well as the people voting for that said person? A democracy is a form of government where an executive is elected, not brought into office with force. Lastly, I disagreed with one of your argument's main ideas, which involved the idea that there is no true separation between the three branches. The separation is more than “wishful thinking.” Not only does our branches have separate powers and jobs, but the success of this idea has been proven. The United States government, under this theory, has lasted a long time and has worked. I believe that our government has worked too well for there to be as many problems as you claim it to have. If the government was failing or didn't work, it is the right of the people to abolish the government, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, and it would've been done a long time ago. Although you make many valid points about Checks and Balances, I didn't agree with most of your ideas. However, this article helped me realize some issues within our government that should be addressed.

  47. I began reading this article with the thought that you were only believing what you wanted to. I understand how “the only difference between the mafia and the government is a flag,” and I agree to some degree. The government will go to any extent to ensure taxes are paid, sometimes too far. However, democracy is no form of dictatorship. Checks and balances are still in place to ensure that the president of the United States only serves a maximum of two four-year terms. If he/she becomes corrupt or unconstitutional, he/she can be impeached. The president could possibly serve longer if an amendment to the constitution was passed, however checks and balances prevent this from happening. 2/3 of the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve, which in this case is highly unlikely since it would in no way benefit the country or its people. Checks and balances undeniably exist, and there is little correlation of a president to a dictator.
    ~ A.O.

  48. I thought it was interesting to hear a very different point of view on democracy, going so far as to call it a dictatorship, which is something most people do not associate with democracy! While I do not agree with everything said in this document, I do agree that the Checks and Balances doesn't always allow the different branches of government to control each other. I also agree with the statement that the 3 Branches are actually connected to make one government, which can make it difficult for it to serve the people and that the checks and balances are being used outside of how they were intended to work.


  49. Dear Mr.Chu,

    I thought that this article very much helped in shining light upon the fault in our government. How the separation of powers, may not be as separate as the government portrays. I don’t agree with your article but however many valid points are made and caused me to think, how are the branches of government supposed to act as enemies as they check and balance each other when in reality they should be working under a common goal. However some of the comparison seem very dramatic, the people to be servants and just tax payers and the government to be the mafia. This I don’t see to be true as the taxes go back to funding us, the people's needs. The people are not servants to the government because the whole purpose of government is to serve the people. I see it more as a cycle relationship where you give and get. Whereas you explained it as a give give give relationship in where the people never receive.

  50. Dear Mr. Chu,

    I completely understand where you are coming from. The way you explain it makes sense however, I feel like I would need to do more research to completely agree. The idea that we are forced into paying taxes without necessarily wanting the services of the government is something that I can understand. It also makes sense that the officials join together to attack the common prey, taxpayers. This causes the government to act more as one than three separate units which balance each other. Your example of Microsoft really explained your thoughts and was a great way for me to understand how checks and balances really are not effective. I like that you are showing us we should question what is enforced by our teachers and media such as Google.

    What I do disagree with however, is the relationship you suggested between the Mafia and the government. The government does provide us with services such as roads, as well as paying government officials. Even if you do not like the idea of government officials, the money is still going into use for the citizens.

    I understand your thoughts, however, I do feel that there needs to be some control. We have learned in class that a limited federal government can impact things such as the economy, so I can not see people without any government being more successful.


  51. Mr. Chu,
    I have always been skeptical of checks and balances. After reading this article, I found myself in complete agreement with your claims. I strongly agree with your statement: “Unfortunately the division of the functions of government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches does not prevent arbitrary excesses by government.” While the government is split into branches to keep things fair, it does not ensure that there won't be arbitrary rulings or actions. Even though the branches are intended to have equal power, the executive branch seems to have the most power and influence in today's government. Though Congress can veto the president, the president can deem something as an “executive order”. The president has the power to usurp the power of the other branches and that was not the desired effect of checks and balances.
    I also agree with your understanding of taxation, it is robbery. People work hard to support their families and their lifestyles, not their government. Taxes are a necessary evil yet government workers make more money than anyone else. As stated in your article, taxpayers are prey. Though the branches are supposedly divided, together they are the money hungry predators. These predators live off of the same tax revenue, as you mentioned in the article. Why would they check each other's powers when they are unified in their greed? Thank you for opening my eyes to the way checks and balances is portrayed versus what it really is: an illusion.


  52. Dear Mr. Chu,
    After reading your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances” I can see that government is not always what it has always portrayed itself to be but I still believe that government is instituted to serve the people. I really enjoyed your analogy comparing Microsoft to the United States government. If Microsoft as you stated were to have a monopoly and would separate their powers into three sections of the company, the separation of powers would not result in any better of a product. It may actually result in a worse product because there is no competing business to make Microsoft improve their products. “With so called democratic governments, which have been empowered by self-styled “champions of freedom and human rights” to physically coerce us into subscribing to its products and services–or else.” According to this quote/ your article, government is like a monopoly, rather then by Private Defense Agencies, the separate and independent branches will always see themselves as the same government or the only government. I agree that we do only have one government and sometimes things can go awry but introducing many Private Defense Agencies would cause so many problems. Imagine two sets of governments controlling the United States; there would be so much conflict. You have also pointed out that government is like a criminal enterprise that it is almost like putting a gun up to someone’s head and asking them for money (taxation). Without taxation our government would not have a stable economy. When America used to rule under the Articles of Confederation, where the states did not have to be taxed by federal government everything went awry and we could see that form of government did not work. After reading your article I can see how sometimes government can be unstable at times but it is there to serve us. Great article I loved all your points!

  53. Dear Bevin Chu,
    Prior to reading your article, The Myth of Checks and Balances, I understood how Separation of Power and Checks and Balances could be beneficial, but didn’t even consider that the government may want to work as one big unit, all trying to perform the same function, instead of intending to override one another's decisions. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches are all working towards collecting our taxes to pay for what they need to make a living (also to help make our communities better places). The government also has the ability to raise our taxes for more money as needed, if they feel that what they were receiving was inadequate. As the citizens, their is nothing we can do about these decisions, but oblige. I think you perfectly summed it up when you said: “As long as a nation is ruled by a conventional monopolistic state rather than served by Private Defense Agencies, any ostensibly “separate and independent branches” of government will always perceive themselves as inseparable parts of the same government, the one government, the only government.” I did agree with a good majority of what you stated in your article, but was a little surprised when you went as far as saying that a democracy was an example of a dictatorship. I believe that the system of Separation of Power and Checks and Balances does have some flaws. I also believe that the government may be working as one big unit with its only intentions is to collect our tax dollars. However, a dictatorship is always defined as a leader or group of leaders having ABSOLUTE authority. In many aspects I believe that the citizens whose tax money is collected has the ability to make some decisions, through voting, on who is running our country. The government as a whole couldn’t have the right to Separate power without the people voting for the people that are there to collect our tax dollars.
    Overall, I thought it was a very well made article.

  54. Dear Mr. Chu,
    After reading your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances”, I can agree with some, but not all of your ideas on the topic. Before reading the article, I always thought that each branch of government had a pretty equal amount of power. Now that I have read your article, my thoughts have changed very much. Throughout our lives, many people have seen diagrams of checks and balances that aren’t completely correct. Your article says that, ”Separating the powers” doesn't actually separate the powers, and doesn't have the three individual bodies checking and balancing each other. The article says that separation is not real. I do believe that the government has three separate branches that are able to check and balance what each other does. The three separated branches are all parts of the same government. The reality of separation of powers is that, “the president is an elective dictator, the legislature is a debating society, and the judiciary is a rubber stamp.” The article also states that “real world experience has demonstrated that over time, the executive invariably co-opts the judiciary and marginalizes the legislature.” You say that the executive branch executes everything that needs to be done by the government. I do think that the executive branch has a lot of power, but I think that the other two branches also have a good amount of power. Baron de Montesquieu was on the spot with his idea that there can be no liberty when the legislative and executive branches are united as one. There can also be no liberty if the judicial branch is not separated from the legislative and executive. Each branch should be on its own, but be able to have the system of checks and balances. Your article greatly opened my eyes because, it gave me another point of view about how our system of checks and balances works. Although I do believe that the branches can check and balance each other, I now think that their power isn't as equal as I thought it was. I found that your article was very informative, and I learned a lot from it. Checks and balances definitely is a myth that a lot of people interpret differently. I view the system in a different way than before, and think that the government may be more unstable than I thought was. The article was very interesting, and gave me a different point of view on the topic.

  55. Dear Bevin Chu,
    After reading your article I gathered a new opinion on Checks and Balances. Although I do believe that Checks and Balances are somewhat efficient and have worked well throughout hundreds of years, you did enlighten me on some of the problems that comes with the system. I think you are partially right in saying that “'separate and independent bodies' remain inseparable parts of the same government,”. The branches of government do have few similar powers to ensure that the best result will come if there is conflict on something and the branches disagree. And although a branch of govenrment has the power to pass something even though the other branches shut it down or don't agree, it doesn't always ensure exactly what the people want unless it's put in context. Each of the branches do have different roles and powers like vetoing and have certain powers over a certain branch (or branches) if the branch does believe of comparing democracy as a dictatorship. I don't see any resemblance at all because a dictator controls everything in the country because he/she has absolute rule. In a democracy the power is spread evenly throughout all the people who vote because everyone has their own opinions and can express that through voting. Also there isn't a single figure or person in charge of the country in a democracy because the people have the power, not one person. I do agree with your opinion on the government striving on taxes because without taxes there would be no public services at all and some things wouldn'tbe achievable without any money coming from taxes. I didn't disagree entirely with all of your opinions but I did think it was interesting on how you perceived the government and the way Checks and Balances work in your point of view.

  56. Dear Students of Mr. Christopher DiFranco's Social Studies Class,

    Thank you all so much for doing the honor of reading my article.

    Much appreciated!

    I will reply in more detail a little later on, after I have had a chance to read and take in what you all wrote.

    In the meantime, I am glad that we have all been able to think about these important issues that affect our rights and liberties as individual human beings.

  57. Dear Bevin Chu,
    By reading your article, “The Myths of Checks and Balances” It has allowed me to attain a greater understanding on the different perspectives towards Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. In the section The Separation is Illusory, The Power is Real, you mentioned that you believe taxes are an unfair form of collecting money from the citizens of the United States. You say “The government perpetuates its existence by robbing individuals at gunpoint. It refers to these acts of robbery as taxation” I completely agree with your statement. Why does the government tax? To help towns and cities pave roads or to pay police and firefighters? While all these reason to tax are fair the way the government is doing so is not. They give us money for our jobs and end up taking a majority back. It makes me think out of all the tax money the government is continually collecting where does it all go? It can't possibly all go to helping cities and towns. Therefore I can see where you are coming from when you say that by taxing us the government is “robbing” us of our money. However while I do agree towards some of your statements I don't agree towards others. You say that “The president is an elective dictator, The legislative is a debating society, and the judiciary is a rubber stamp” I believe that the way you have described each branch is an incorrect characterization of each. First off, the executive branch does consist of a major power but due to the many Checks and Balances the executive branch can't do anything extremely radical without the input and agreement from the other branches. Therefore it is hard to say that the Executive branch is a “dictatorship” If the foremost person has no complete power to themselves. Moreover the Legislative branch isn't just a “debating society” and the Judicial branch is not simply a “rubber stamp”. Both branches have equally important roles in our government as well. While I'm not attempting to defend our branches of government, I still believe that your description towards each's importance is an inaccurate way of viewing each system. Your Microsoft example did greatly help me when reading. I understand how if Microsoft were the only form of computer software why would they attempt to produce anything with good quality or great prices. Microsoft would no longer have a reason to be great because they have no competitors. They also wouldn't have to force us to buy their product because of the lack of other competing businesses. This example helps me see that since the government is our only form they have no competition and no threat. Unlike Microsoft the government “Can physically coerce us into subscribing to its products and services– or else” In conclusion I can respect and agree with many of your points and fully understand people's different views towards the way our government is run.


  58. Dear Mr. Chu,
    After reading your article, it was clear to me that government might have some flaws but definitely not to your extents. The point that, “‘separating the powers’ doesn't really separate the powers, and doesn't really result in ‘separate and independent bodies checking and balancing each other’” was extremely eye opening to me. In school, students are taught the roles and responsibilities but not necessarily shown the flaws of the system. The branches of government were first introduced to the United States in the writing of the Constitution. The delegates split the government into three equal branches known as the executive, legislative, and judicial in hopes that it would last forever. According to the article, this system might be controversial. However, this system has been proven to work and sustain the government as a whole for many years. Also, I don’t exactly agree with your point that democracy is a form of dictatorship and that the executive branch acts as a dictator. A democracy is the furthest from a dictatorship being that citizens are free to express and enjoy their fundamental rights. Another point stated was that “this government perpetuates its existence by robbing individuals at gunpoint. It refers to these acts of armed robbery as ‘taxation,’ as if calling its crime by some other name absolved it of guilt”. The idea of taxation being a crime is somewhat irrelevant. Taxation is necessary to support the commonwealth and without it, the United States would not be supported with social services such as health, education, and national defense. Disagreeing with your article, the idea of separation of powers, checks and balances, and taxation are extremely important to the operations of the United States government.

  59. Throughout all of middle school and high school we have been taught to believe that our government is so great because it has separation of powers and checks and balances. Reading this article is the first time I have ever encountered negativity towards our government and I find it very intriguing. I agree that a democracy can be a dictatorship. If there were only the executive branch of government, then the president would essentially be an elected dictator. I think that a government and a mafia have many similarities but they are not the same in my opinion. A crime family takes money from people and so does the government, but the uses of this money are very different. The government uses the taxes to provide necessary services for the people while a mafia does not. I don't believe in an anarchy because I think a country would be chaotic with no government, but I see your point about how all governments are monopolistic. Although I do not see eye to eye on certain things, I think that your article was very eye-opening.

  60. Mr. Chu, reading your article I was able to see your points in the flaws of government but I do not follow them to your extent. I especially like your comment that in junior high and high school we are only taught to believe the government is perfect. I like this because being a high school student now, I have realized although it was never forced on me to love our government it was just an automatic thought. Reading further into the article it’s interesting that you believe separation of powers is “wishful thinking.” I feel that if the government has worked this long already, even including its flaws, I do believe separation of powers is carried out. Also, you pointed out in a The Godfather quote, “Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed. Michael Corleone: Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?” I strongly believe that the government does not have people killed without a very good reason. This is one of the points I believed you took too far. I understand over the years the branches of government have taken it upon themselves to get more power but nothing is out of reason or else the other branches would have definitely shut it down and not allow the power. The article was very interesting, I enjoyed reading an anarchist’s point of view on our government today but I do not feel the same way.

  61. Dear Mr.Chu,
    After reading your article “The Myths of Checks and Balances”, the piece of writing made me see a different view to separation of powers. I now too agree with many of your points however not to the full extent of the article. I do agree that political systems do not function as well in the real world as we are taught in school. There is only the basics of the topic taught in school and we usually don't go into depth of this idea. The idea of separation of powers could be a myth in some ways because in reality these branches do work together and are intertwined to make out government work. Each of the branch's job cannot be done without the other. However that is the role of checks and balances and that is the whole idea so that one branch does not gain power over the other. I also agree with your idea that taxation is acts of armed robbery to an extent. Many taxes are unreasonable and questionable. However these taxes are towards good use to fix roads, pay for military and our education. Even if these taxes are used for the community/country why is it that they have to take money from us? It does seem like the government is robbing us. In the article, something also made me think. If the government was compared to a family why would that family split up to check and balance each other. Wouldn't that family stick together to have more power? I hadn't ever thought about government in that way and it really made me question it. You had also stated that the executive branch is the dictator, the legislative branch is the debating society, and the judicial branch is the rubber stamp. Here is where I disagree. All the branches have their separate jobs and again cannot get those jobs done without each other. I do believe that checks and balances exist and is working in our government today as well as all the hundreds of years before. The executive cannot make a law but can propose one to which legislature will pass it if they want to. The executive branch is not a dictator is any way because they do not have full power. There is a reason to why there are separation of powers: to make sure one does not become a dictator. Overall I do believe that separation is a myth in certain view points however checks and balances are crucial the US government today. In reading this article I was able to see from another's view point of this topic and it was very interesting to read!

  62. Prior to this assignment I had learned of the government's checks and balances system throughout the years of middle and high school, but however this article peaked an interest because it is the first source that has shown me the flaws of the system. I had never considered the thought that the separation of power could actually limit the government in a negative way but after consideration it becomes apparent that one branch can prevent a change that could benefit the people and the country. I also have never considered the separation to actually be an illusion which is an interesting concept because in the end there is still only one government. One concept that I have contemplated is the true equality of the three branches and it is apparent they will never truly be equal. For the government to work one branch will always have the most power and there are arguments that is either executive or legislative. You described the judicial branch to just be a “rubber stamp” which I can certainly agree with. The quote you used from George W Bush got my attention as he said “I'm the decider and I decide what's best.” which is an incredibly egotistical statement and shows how flawed the government can be. After reading this article I can confidently state that the government is flawed in many aspects especially with the checks and balances system which should be used as it was intended to be.

  63. Dear Mr. Chu
    After reading your article, my perception of how our government runs has changed immensely. Throughout my whole life, it's been put into my head that our the way our government was set up was equal and the most efficient way. After reading this, my opinion has changed. One point in which I agree with you is, “The reason why “separating the powers” doesn't result in separate and independent bodies checking and balancing each other, is that the separation is not real. The separation is illusory. The separation is nothing more than wishful thinking.” It makes a lot of sense that the separation of powers is all an illusion. The unfair taxes imposed on citizens help the government gain revenue, so why wouldn't they work together to set unfair taxes on us? I agree with you in that the government is all one body of government. They are all working together to rob individuals, just like you said: “As an old joke has it, “The only difference between the Mafia and the government is a flag.” The joke is funny because it is true.” Thank you for changing my outlook on our government and making me more aware of the type of country I live in today.

  64. Dear Mr. Chu,
    After reading your article “The Myth of Checks and Balances”, it has become evident to me that at school students learn the basic definition of Check and Balances, but lack an understanding of how it works in government today. At school we learn that each branch of government has equal power, and help ensure that one branch does not abuse their power. After reading this article my viewpoint has changed drastically. I have been shown numerous charts showing how each branch “checks” each other, but it does not explain how it all really works. You said “The reason why “separating the powers” doesn't result in separate and independent bodies checking and balancing each other, is that the separation is not real. The separation is illusory. The separation is nothing more than wishful thinking.” and furthermore “Can we really expect officials who are part of such a criminal enterprise not to perceive each other as fellow predators, and us, the taxpayers, as their common prey?”. Although the government branch’s have intertwined powers, they are still all one large body. They would like us to believe that they really are separate groups, but in the end they are all on the same side and want the same things. By being one large body, it can mask their decisions and not check properly and therefore do not protect the citizens as promised. After reading your article I agree that some things have to change if we truly want it to be a Check and Balance system, but our government has lasted this long so we are obviously doing something right.
    Thank you for opening my eyes,

  65. Dear Mr. Chu,
    In my few years of learning about our government in school, we were always taught the basics of what they do but never have been asked what we think about it. I have never thought of our government negatively, but after reading your article it got me thinking about the subject. Though i do not agree with all your points, I can understand where you are getting your ideas. It is difficult to understand why our checks and balance system focus on vetoing each other rather than staying on task and working together to solve their problems. Comparing the government to a mafia is a little drastic. Our government taxes us to benefit the people in the long run. Saying that “every official of a monopolistic state lives off the same tax revenues extorted at gunpoint from hapless taxpayers unfortunate enough to live within the government's reach” is going too far because it can benefit us and always comes back to us in some way, shape or form. You however explained it as a system where the government swallows our money and never gives it back. Thank you for making me think about the systems i live under today, but i still believe our government has helped plenty along the way and without it we would not be where we are today.

  66. Dear Mr. Chu,
    First of all, I know that you may think that the separation of powers is illusory but if it was, than how would the US last nearly two and a half centuries with it? Also, you question how can we expect the officials to not think of each other as fellow predators, competing, and that the common people aren’t thought of as their prey? Who said anything about the three branches competing? By balancing each other out, if one branch denies another from passing a law, or anything, they are doing it in the country and the citizens’ best interest. The common citizens are not thought of as prey, more like the children who the officials are given the job to father or mother and take care of. You also led on the idea that the executive branch overpowers the legislative and judicial. Firstly, the executive branch is really only one person, while the legislative has over 100 and the judicial also has many people. Therefore, one person, in this case the president, cannot make a decision without the majority of the people in the legislative and judicial branches along side them. Also, the legislative and judicial branches have the power to maintain their power and not allow the president to overrun them. If the president is creating his/her own autocracy, the other two branches have the ability to put them on trial for an impeachment. In conclusion, I believe that the separation of powers does prevent a dictatorship or corruption and guarantees that the citizens’ rights are in good hands and the people are the main priority.

  67. Dear Mr. Chu

    After reading your article, it became apparent that I do not think much about the way our government is run. Your opinions on taxation and separation of powers just being an illusion were interesting, even though I don’t fully agree with them. Calling the president an “elective dictator” is a very bold statement, and is weird to hear because i’ve always known that the Legislative and Judicial branch to be fairly equal to the executive. We need a ⅔ vote from the House and the Senate for our president to amend our constitution, and the Judicial branch can claim him “unconstitutional” at any time. Even though you argue that our checks and balances are non existent, without them our government would collapse. We’ve lasted since the 1700’s, so i would claim our system is rather efficient.

  68. Mr.Chu
    After reading your article I've come to agree with your thoughts as to why the lines separating the branches were merely just for show. It became clear to me what you were proving when you compared citizens to abused wives and said that even though the citizens are beaten they feel deep down the government still loves them (the government being the abusive husbands). This really opened my eyes to the truth and made myself more inclined to believe you. We citizens always think “the government knows best” “it's been going strong for two and a half centuries why hasn't it failed yet?” “There really must be a good reason for this trust the government” when in reality that's just what we want to believe. We hope our government is doing what's right. We think they “love us” like the abusive husbands. Citizens are trained to think like this with the repeated abuse the government gives us like heavy taxes. “The taxes MUST be going somewhere safe” we all hope as 25% of our hard earned money is being taken out and sent to only God knows where. I also would like you add how much I liked that quote by George w. Bush stating that he decides what's best. This truly shows the truth behind the executive branch being the true power behind the government. In class we learned about executive orders that are “necessary orders” like wars. George W. Bush knowing he is the true decider discovered this loop hole and was able to declare war without actually declaring war. Just like his father did years before. Your article woke me and many other people to the bare truth behind our government. It's also very refreshing to hear these new opinions rather than the ones drilled into our heads. Thank you for your time

    Other JS

  69. Mr Chu
    Having read the article now it is more clear to me how checks and balances works. The intentions of the process were indeed genuine and pure at first but then over time drifted from what was expected. The separation of powers in each branch was intended to prevent on branch from becoming stronger than the other. While now instead of different branches that keep each other from becoming power hungry, we have three branches that have molded into thinking, acting and moving as one unit. If this is true than where does the real power lie? The government expects teachers to instill one idea into our heads about how amazing our government is, when in reality the government is just trying to get us citizens on their side. If all the branches work as one unit, as one overall head power, is it any different from exactly the monarchy the founding fathers wanted to move away from? Overall very good read that opened my eyes about the government.

  70. After reading this article I am going to have to say I disagree with a lot of what was said. For example, when comparing the mafia to the government the article says that taxation is like robbing someone at gunpoint I completely disagree with that. Although taxation is a responsibility of a citizen it is nothing like robbing someone at gunpoint. The taxes that are taken by the government are given back to help with public services, like public education, and maintaining roads/public areas. I also don’t understand how it makes sense to compare Microsoft as a monopoly to military, police, and courts. This just doesn’t make sense to me at all since they are just too different to compare to each other. Also I disagree that military, police, and courts could even be considered close to a monopoly because a monopoly is trying to make money where the military etc. is a system that is set in place to protect us. As to the point of the executive branch having all the power, at least for the U.S’s government this is false. You referred to the executive branch as an elected dictator but I think that a common misconception with the government is that the executive branch has the most power. But when really looking at the three branches the most powerful branch is definitely the legislative branch they have to approve of many of the decisions the executive branch makes. The legislative branch has to almost overlook the decisions made in the executive branch. So I have to disagree with the executive branch having the most power when it comes to the government.However even though I disagreed with these ideas it was still good to see a different perspective on the things we have been learning about in school.

  71. Dear Bevin Chu,
    I completely disagree with your idea that the three branches of government are really just elected dictators and that the country would be better off without them. I understand where you're coming from when you say that the government is basically just robbing citizens at gun point when taking taxes but it's not that bad. Obviously taxes stink but they're necessary for the survival of a country so I don't think it's right to say that the government is practically robbing its citizens. Also I disagree when you say that the three branches of government don't balance each other out and they're all just dictators. The government is mostly elected by the people and no one in the government can decide whatever they want, almost any decision or proposal has to be approved by another branch which stops stuff that's unconstitutional being levied on the citizens. Also without separation of powers what government would America have? Maybe it's not perfect but our government is better than a monarchy or even no government at all.


  72. Dear Bevin Chu,
    The article expresses many topics of how the Separation of powers is not really “separating power” equally. I agree with what you say, especially when you say “the president is an elective dictator, the legislature is a debating society and the judiciary is a rubber stamp.” I think that summed up the branches pretty well. It describes the one-man branch, the bicameral branch that makes the laws, and the Judicial branch that interprets the laws. Although I was very confused why the article used a service provider for military, and then for computer software, I though it helped give a in-depth image of government's power and the separation of the powers. At the end of the article though it says that democracy is a form of dictatorship, but I don't think that way. The people are choosing who they want,w ether or not that executive becomes a dictator (very very unlikely), they were still chosen by the people, so its the people's fault for choosing the dictator then.
    – HL

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