|Flag of Sober Thought|
|Motto: We are extreme in our moderation|
|IDU regional only / Seulement celle de l'IDU / Nur der Region|
|Region||International Democratic Union|
|Official Language(s)||English, français|
|Leader|| Community Conscience (head of state),|
Chief Minister (head of government)
|NS NSTracker Sunset XML|
Sober Thought is a federal and secular republic in NationStates gameplay and roleplay. The Community of Sober Thought was created on or about 25 February 2005 for the NationStates game. Upon reaching five hundred million inhabitants, it adopted the customised pretitle Gemeinde, a German translation for Community to mollify English and French speaking residents. It went defunct in March 2006 but was revived soon after. It again ceased to exist in November 2006 but is expected to be resuscitated soon.
Area and population
Most of Sober Thought is found on the mainland continent on the International Democratic Union's map. The only two islands of any substantial size are Bristle Island and the much smaller Potato Island.
Sober Thought reached a population of one billion the week of 23 August 2005 and two billion the week of 23 January 2006.
NS Economy link for current statistics.
Conventional wisdom held by outsiders is that Sober Thought deserves its Imploded rating in gameplay. For instance, it is typically the worst performing economy in the entire International Democratic Union according to Gross Domestic Product per capita and its Denkmark currency the lowest valued. Some classical liberals have blamed this poor performance on the policy of requiring union dues from non-members.
However, within the country itself and among its mainstream political parties, there is generally contentment with the socio-economic situation as a whole. It operates somewhat in isolation from the regional and world economies, not by fiat but by the result of voluntarily adopted economic policies of a low dollar which discourage imports and encourage exports. Nevertheless, Sober Thought is a signatory to the IDU Free Trade Agreement and a proponent of a similar agreement across the United Nations.
The government mostly stays away from direct employment, but rather relies on public agencies likes Sober Thought Post and Sober Thought Libraries, and parapublic agencies like STaqua and STferro, or even regulation of private industry. The main industry, and wholly occupied by the private sector, is beef-based agriculture. Meat consumption is occasionally augmented by hunting owls, the national animal. The much smaller manufacturing industry is chiefly concerned with producing vehicles and weapons for the Community Defence Forces and dual purpose aircraft for the CDF and the flagship airline CommunitAir.
The country asks a great deal of its citizenry, such as tolerating a practically worthless national currency, in exchange for the ability to own one's own home and benefit from an extensive social safety net. Income distribution -- helped by extremely high federal income taxes -- is fairly even but not even enough to discourage private sector activity, and not uneven enough to great too much relative or absolute poverty. Education is highly prized and widely available on an affordable basis.
Similarly, trade unions are granted the right of automatic checkoff but are in turn required to squelch wildcat strikes and ensure the labour peace. Businesses are given the right to incorporate and lessen investor risk but must observe fair dealing or face possible suspension and dissolution. Labour organising and business incorporation are mainly concentrated in enterprises employing scores if not hundreds of people.
Main article: Sober Thought government.
The federal government is represented by abstractly by as head of state, called the Community Conscience. In practical matters, it is represented by the Chief Minister (sitting in the House of the Federation) as head of government. The Cabinet is comprised of the ministers of the four major ministries (Ministry of Community Wellbeing, Ministry of Community Prosperity, Ministry of Community Connections and Ministry of Community Defence) and their various vice ministers, both groups of whom are appointed by the Chief Minister.
There is a bicameral federal legislature, comprised of the House of the Federation with 300 representatives elected to represent people and the House of the Provinces with about three dozen representatives chosen to represent provinces.
Among the more important exclusive jurisdictions of the federal government are international relations, criminal law, civil and human rights and air transportation. It also shares the jurisdiction with the provinces on defence and emergency measures, education and ground transportation.
Each province has its own type of legislature and legislative procedures, but generally they are unicameral bodies with at least some representatives elected by a system other than that of the simple plurality or Westminster. In any event, they have exclusive jurisdiction over: police, health, civil law and natural resources.
They have shared jurisdiction with the federal government over: public security, education and ground transportation. Internal relations are fostered by the Ministry of Community Connections, especially its Vice Ministry of Community Cooperation which is responsible for the shared federal-provincial jurisdictions (including the Civil Guard).
Provinces may be admitted, expelled, merged or split according to constitutional procedures. Click here for a current list of provinces.
There is an even greater variety of government and legislative forms for the dozens of federally chartered municipalities even though they all have the same rights and responsibilities. Municipalities call themselves: city, county, island, métropole, peninsula and region. Most provinces have at least some residents living outside municipalities in unchartered territory.
Chartered municipalities have territorial integrity and a few areas of exclusive jurisdiction: municipal planning (zoning), fire protection and garbage disposal. They may have informal authority, especially the largest cities like Schweindorf and Mont Royaume, in areas under federal, provincial or both jurisdictions.
Main article: Sober Thought political parties.
Since the lower house of the federal government is partly based on proportional representation, it has encouraged the growth of smaller parties that would be shut out of a system based solely on simple pluralities in many electoral districts. An exhaustive discussion of political theory and its application to the political culture of Sober Thought is found in the article on the Christian Unity Party.
The three largest parties in the House of the Federation together typically control about two thirds of the seats, while the five smallest parties and a handful of independents typically control the remaining third.
|Seats*||Civil Rights||Social Diversity||Econ. Freedom||Centralism||Religiosity|
|Free Enterprise Party||34||0||0||++||-||0|
|Liberal Democratic Party||28||++||++||--||0||--|
|Christian Unity Party||10||-||--||0||--||++|
* There are also three Independent MHFs and one vacancy: the Speaker of the House of the Federation who resigned from the Moderate Party during her tenure; an independently-elected strong-willed and popular local hero; a former member of the far-right CUP ejected for extremism who later was elected as an independent.
A double plus represents strong agreement, a single plus moderate agreement, a zero neutrality, a single minus moderate disagreement and a double plus a strong disagreement. Within a single voter, there may be several political cleavages working at cross purposes. For example, a deeply religious Catholic from a racial minority might be employed as unionized industrial worker in Hochelaga. As such, the voter might reasonably be attracted to the Christian Unionists, Socialists, Liberal Democrats or Parti hochelagais.
All community-wide governments are coalitions of one sort or another. Four are based on the conventional political spectrum: Right-wing coalitions of CP, FEP, RA and perhaps one or both of CUP and PH are possible but not common. Centre-right coalitions of MP, CP, likely FEP, and perhaps RA are both possible and common. Left-wing coalitions of SP and LDA are theoretically possible but have never been attempted. Centre-left coalitions of MP, SP and perhaps LDA are possible, common and the current governing coalition.
International relations and national defence
The main purpose of international relations is to provide external security to the federation and its citizens. Thus, the two are closely intertwined and are both subordinate to the Ministry of Community Defence.
Detractors outside the country tend to think that Theodore Roosevelt's dictum -- walk softly and carry a big stick -- characterised the national defence and foreign policy. However, citizens prefer to think of it as offering the open hand of peace before making the closed fist of war.
The country is a happy and active member of the International Democratic Union. The federation solicits and maintains defensive alliances with fellow democracies and actively defends democracy at the United Nations and in other international forums. Relations with undemocratic nations are both possible and desirable, but a support of democratic principles is required for close relations.
Short-term humanitarian aid may be provided regardless of the anti-democratic government of a nation in need, but long-term international aid will be commensurate with the level of democracy in the country. These services are integrated with the national defence forces.
The uniformed members of the Community Defence Forces provide the primary defence of the constitution and of the federation. However, due to the broad understanding of the concept of defence, they are assisted by many other organised and unorganised bodies which would not be counted as defence workers in many other countries. For instance, arms manufacturing workers and religious international aid workers (meeting federal standards) are also considered defence workers.
Main article: Sober Thought education.
Education is a prerequisite to an informed electorate and democratic society, so Sober Thought places a strong emphasis upon it and makes it part of the super Ministry of Community Wellbeing. "Free" in the education system means at no direct cost to the student or guardian, to be paid for by public taxation or other government revenues.
Education is compulsory between age 6 and 15. Furthermore, it is free, public and secular until the end of secondary school. Any religious education, besides the study of comparative religion, shall take place outside the secular school hours. With the consent of the secular schools, religious education may be conducted on school property outside secular school hours. Secondary education is funded by the respective provincial government, while the standards are maintained at the federal level.
The federal government establishes the minimum program standards for granting degrees but otherwise is uninvolved in their governance unless it chooses to establish its own universities where it may compel its scholarship winners to attend as a condition of the scholarship. Provincial governments may establish their own universities on a similar basis and in which they may discriminate against out-of-province students.
Professional education is provided for such fields as law, medicine and accounting which would allow graduates a reasonable prospect to become self-employed. Each professional institution must meet federal government standards but may collect its fees in any way it desires.
The federal government pays the full education cost of the top one percent of applicants for secular tertiary education, half the cost of the next five percent and one quarter the cost of the next ten percent. Recipients of these scholarships may choose to begin a trades apprenticeship, attend a commercial college, attend an academic university or begin a professional programme.
Federal loans are available to students on bases similar to low-interest mortgages. Provincial governments may offer similar incentives but they may also attach such conditions as they see fit, e.g., residency in a province after graduation, attendance at a provincial-owned institution, entry into a specific program, etc.