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June 27, 2006

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» Dick Cheney is a One Percenter from Pax Americana
No, not that type of one percenter. (I do accept that all three of you neither understood the reference, or found it funny). What is the One Percent Doctrine? Dick Cheney described it thusly (quoted from Ron Sunkinds book by the same name, via C... [Read More]

» One Percent Doctrine in Real Life from Truck and Barter
John Allen Paulos column on the One Percent Doctrine; “…Suskind describes the Cheney doctrine as follows: "Even if there's just a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, act as if it is a certainty. It's not about 'our analysis,' as Cheney sai... [Read More]

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The Law Fairy

Er... that should be "tax," not "task."

Kimball Corson

The discussion was on population control in order to abate global warming, with then a note by LAK that we are only 150 years into the industrial revolution, a very small fraction of human history, and we still have no idea how to organize and distribute wealth. I hopped from there to a discussion of wealth distribution, noting that many are unhappy with the observed distribution of wealth in America (top 4% own 60% of all wealth) and what could be done to correct it. The proposal does not say the government should spend that wealth as it chooses, but that it take and use it to give members of each new generation a more equal start in the race for financial happiness. As matters stand, the wealth distribution is becoming more unequal every year and American real wages have been standing still since the '70s (for that and other reasons). I did not make the proposal, only suggested it aa a way of using positive economics to correct a government assisted mal distribution of wealth. Don't worry, Law Fairy, you'll get yours. The proposal has zero chance of adoption because of the political muscle of that 4%. Indeed, we are going in the opposite direction because of them. P.S. corporate ownership is a large fraction of the wealth that would be redistributed each generation.

The Law Fairy

So, Kimball, your proposal would include illiquid assets then? Stock certificates? Real property? Family homes? Heirlooms? What about trusts? Seems we'd have to outlaw those as well.

I get that the government would supposedly reallocate the money in a more equal manner, but that involves actually trusting the bureaucrats to figure out the right way to do that. If bureaucrats didn't suck at most things they put their hands to (in the aggregate -- obviously there are competent bureaucrats, but there are sadly far too few), we wouldn't have the problems with the welfare system that we currently have, and we wouldn't face the unequal wealth problem you're describing.

How about, instead, eliminating tax shelters for corporations and real property investors? Obviously this would never happen, as they basically own the government, but in the abstract it seems a much better proposal. Take away the possibility of inheritence and you remove all but the most marginal incentive to save. Stocks and bonds will cease to exist, and retirement plans will dwindle to bare sustenance.

And what about spouses and children whose primary caretaker dies suddenly in a car accident? I imagine that to become recipients of the government's equalizing program would require the filling out of forms and would likely take far longer than they could really bear. A middle-class housewife and her two young children would go from comfortable middle class to starving and homeless in a matter of hours. I simply don't see how anything about this even approaches a good idea.

Kimball Corson

Some more data on Wealth Distribution in the USA

Distribution of net worth and financial wealth in the United States, 1983-2001
Total Net Worth
Top 1% Next 19% Bottom 80 %
1983 33.8% 47.5% 18.7%
1989 37.4% 46.2% 16.4%
1992 37.2% 46.6% 16.3%
1995 38.5% 45.4% 16.1%
1998 38.1% 45.3% 16.6%
2001 33.4% 51.0% 15.5%

Financial Wealth
Top 1 % Next 19 % Bottom 80 %
1983 42.9% 48.4% 8.7%
1989 46.9% 46.5% 6.6%
1992 45.6% 46.7% 7.7%
1995 47.2% 45.9% 7.0%
1998 47.3% 43.6% 9.1%
2001 39.7% 51.5% 8.8%

The Law Fairy

Kimball, how do we compare to other nations?

Kimball Corson

Now Law Fairy, its is not my proposal, but I am coming to like it the more I think about it. It has a good moral tone, almost Christian, if you will (giving all your loot to Caesar when you die.) It is a way the acutely bad distribution of wealth in this country could be remedied and quickly. Yes, all assets of each estate would have to be sold to pay the 100% taxes but time would be allowed so fire sales would not be necessary. Trusts are just a dodge and would be eliminated too. The government would then utilize all this money to better equalize financial opportunity for each new generation (a negative wealth tax on the young would be a neutral way, for example; another would be an equal grant to each). Just as nobody gets to take anything with them when they die, so too their relatives and friends don’t get to lomb onto what was the decedent’s either. There would still be an incentive to save, that is, invest. The wealthy often do it just as a game. Their effort is certainly not need driven and too many have more money than they have time to spend it on consumption. Stock and bonds would not cease to exist. Many would be bought by the young with their new found means. Retirement plans would still be needed because people do need income when they are “retired, but not dead” (like me). All we are really saying is the thought that all young adults starting out would get to be heirs of all of those who recently died. All are the children of all who were. Your accident scenario could be addressed by the system of community property adopted in many states. The wife’s half would not be taxed because she did not die; only her husband’s half would be taxed at 100%. The children on finishing high school would get their grants. The system could be made workable.

Now here is the shocker. If ever put to a popular vote, the 4% or 20% might just loose. Now there is a really scary thought. Only ignorance stands between what now is and what might be, as suggested here. I am warming up to this idea.

Kimball Corson

Wealth distribution is bad in many countries and worse in many underdeveloped countries than in the USA because government related corruption is worse. However, stock market gains and tax cuts for the affluent have bolstered the wealth of the richest portions of the world's population strongly since 2003. The US leads industrialized countries in wealth disparity, with the top 1% controlling over one third of the assets. Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff warns that the unfair distribution of wealth within most countries will lead to serious social tensions all over the world. As big company profits reach record highs, an ever-smaller percentage of the population gains from high economic growth rates, while most workers see their wages stagnate. As a result, governments could lose public support. The world’s poorest benefit very little from economic growth. Moreover, “our obsession with growth” fails to provide long-term, environmentally sustainable solutions to people’s well being. While economic growth can contribute to better living conditions it often does not and that is a travesty. Many economists see growth as the ultimate answer to all problems, including poverty. Nevertheless, the poor’s share in its benefits has decreased constantly in recent decades world wide while the environmental costs of growth have steadily risen. Global inequality has sharply risen during the last decades. The average income of the richest 20% of the world’s population in 1960 was 30 times higher than that of the poorest 20%. In 1995, this number had increased to 82 times. Political leaders rarely discuss redistribution in their speeches on development. They should. The experience of several Latin American countries shows that social policies of redistribution, rather than privatization and liberalization, strongly contribute to reduce inequality and promote development. Globalization is substantially driving inequality. Economic development does not necessarily bring about a society where everyone has the right to a decent life. Too often it only provides wealth to a small percentage of the population. A recent UN report on "The World Social Situation: The Inequality Predicament" focuses on the “persistent and deepening inequality” in the world.

For a concret example of a result from such inequality, while over 1 billion people worldwide lack reliable access to safe drinking water, people in rich countries spend astronomical amounts of money on bottled water, which they could not distinguish from tap water if they tried. Ironically, only $11 billion would pay for clean water and sanitation for everybody on the planet, a figure which represents less than a quarter of global annual spending on bottled water.

The Law Fairy

I don't think it would ever win -- here's the problem. You're proposing something that sounds like a modified version of Rawls' veil of ignorance. The problem with the veil of ignorance is that it doesn't take into account American arrogance and optimism. People tend to think that their children will do better in life than they did -- they see their children as an extension of themselves. People want to pass on their money to their kids, even if it isn't a lot. Parents want to give the family home to their children. They want to pass on valuable heirlooms.

Even if something like this was put to a vote, Americans are smart enough to vote against it. It takes away the possibility of leaving a legacy for your family. The reason the lotto is so lucrative is because people believe in the .00001 percent chance. They believe that they could strike it rich tomorrow. And if they do, they don't want the government taking it away the second their heart stops.

Why would there be a time gap between death and confiscation? As soon as the owner dies, it belongs to the government. Perhaps you have a rosier view of the government than I, but I've never known the government to allow people to use its property rent-free for any discernable period of time.

If you think community property will solve the problem I suggested (further enforcing the disgustingly prevalent discrimination against singles; essentially creating a loophole in the 100% estate tax for married people, which is sure to be constitutionally challenged), what about the single parent with young kids? For that matter, what happens to the kids? Are you allowed to pass along *any* wishes post-death, or do the kids go to the government too (rather than close friends or relatives)?

And who says that wealth redistribution is a good thing? Envy and greed are constants. There will always be unhappy and hungry people. Throwing money at people is a temporary fix. Wouldn't we be much better off investing the money in environmental, scientific, and medical research to deal with the problems caused by scarcity of natural resources? It's like playing monopoly without Go. The amount of money is fixed; the question is just who gets it. And economist worth half her salt will tell you the world doesn't work that way, if it's working properly.

You honestly don't have a problem with the government controlling all the money? That really doesn't worry you? I can't imagine trusting many of my close friends with my money, let alone the government. It must be nice to live in such a trusting world.

Kimball Corson

I think American arrogance and optimism is taking in the ear these days. Children are coming to realize, along with their parents, that they will NOT do better in life than the parents did. My children have been very candid about that. I would love to tell them differently, but I believe they are right. Also, I am not to sure passing my loot to my kids is going to do anything more than continue to spoil them and spoiled they are, even by their own admission. On heirlooms, there should be a $500 or so exemption because often the sentimental value is much greater than market value and it makes no sense to deprive someone of such articles to get next to nothing for it. And Law Fairy, the government should take people’s stuff away the second their heart stops because they can no longer use it and others can, much better and more effectively, in the form of money.

You ask why would there be a time gap between death and confiscation. I respond that time is needed to liquidate assets and avoid depressed fire sale prices. That is in the government’s interest and in the interest of the youth benefiting as they start their adult life. Community property will solve many problems and there is no discrimination. If you die, the government gets your goods; if you don’t, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter whether you are single or married. You die, you loose all the stuff you cannot take with you.

You ask, what about the single parent with young kids? I say somebody has to take care of them, in any event. If a relative, part of the aggregate grant fund of the government should be set aside for support in such situations, regardless of what the dead parent had. If no relative, then as now.

You ask who says that wealth redistribution is a good thing? There is economic literature on that. GNP grows, welfare is reduced, productivity increases and people have more hope and are happier. Envy and greed are probably reduced too. That there will always be unhappy and hungry people does not mean wealth distribution doesn’t make sense and should not be undertaken. Some of the most unhappy people on earth are those who won the lottery. We are not throwing money at people, as a temporary fix, we are helping young people when they need it the most get on their feet financially and not favoring any in that regard over any others.

You ask whether we wouldn't we be much better off investing the money in environmental, scientific and medical research to deal with the problems caused by scarcity of natural resources. I think if that is the case, young people with their new money will buy stock in just those companies, perhaps not immediately, but in time and as they earn more. An economist worth half her salt really just might truly like the little program we are crafting here precisely because she would realize GNP grows, welfare is reduced, productivity increases and people have more hope and are happier.

Now I do have a problem with the government controlling all that money. You betcha. I don’t want a big bureaucracy. That is why I like equal flat grants (maybe payable over a year to four years) or a lump sums like a tax refund through IRS over the same term I don’t much trust the government to figure out more or a better way of distributing the funds. It does worry me. There would have to be strong and clear statutes and CRFs and GAO would have to stay on top of the program, along with Congress. If I could do more here I would. Direct transfers minimize the likelihood of problems.

So are we ready to write a book on this entitled, “The Fix”? Popularizing these notions and basic ideas could be a hoot. We might even need body guards.

brentbrent

Kimball said: Beyond good company, family and friends, we are all negative externalities to each other: the guy ahead of us at the light or in line.

I am surprised to read this statement, since farmers provide you food, government workers provide a stable environment to live and economic systems requiring the contibution of thousands and thousands of people, thousands of people provided the technology for you to type at your computer and to come up with the theories we are discussing in the first place and on and on. I would say you and I are massive benficiaries of the human population and hopefully make a contribution of our own rather than being a negative externality as you imply. It is not without problems that we have 6 billion or so people on Earth, but it is not without its benefits.

Nate S.

I am somewhat tardy in entering this conversation; however, I believe that LAK's 9/11 death numbers are misleading and incomplete. Please allow me to give you some additional information, which you can verify at the following address:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11,_2001_attacks

Fatalities in NYC: 2,752
Fatalities in D.C.: 189
Fatalities in PA: 44

TOTAL 2,985

Kimball Corson

Brentbrent is right and I have to back off my position somewhat and try to be more articulate. Others of us are not net external inconveniences to us to the extent we can take good advantage of their productive capabilities and inventiveness, at least to the point where economies of scale wain and disminishing marginal utility sets in regard for each such good produced and consumed. Five competitors gives us real choice; 25 is not worth all the extra people, as an example. We could probably do as well with half or a bit more of the population in the US. The rest of us just get in each others way. With more thought, I could probably do better here, but might not be more correct on the numbers.

Kimball Corson

I know of no good studies in this quarter, probably because many people do not like us thinking along these lines. It is a sort of taboo subject. Makes us look uncharitable and unfriendly, even though that is not the intent of the analysis. It is more a question of what is the optimal population.

Roach

Surely Kimball you favor immediate immigration restrictions in the US to prevent this local increase in population from the overpopulated Third World. I do, but for other reasons.

How is it that environmentalists don't see the connection between sprawl, destruction of green spaces, the proliferation of gas guzzlers, and pollution and litter when millions of poor third worlders not accustomed to our values move to the US every year.

The Law Fairy

I don't think I understand your thinking, Kimball. Why would a small population be "optimal"? To me this seems the kind of abstract thinking that's untestable and therefore can't make a very informed hypothesis. A society of 150 million would have its own unique problems. For example, Los Angeles is heavily populated but broadly spread out. Chicago is probably more densely populated, even though it is a smaller city. But there are many people who, in spite of the weather, prefer living in Chicago to living in Los Angeles. Having lived in Chicago for several years myself before moving to Los Angeles, I see some of the advantages of a densely populated area: resources are easier to access, family and friends are closer, and emergency services are closer. Some people prefer less density, while others prefer more (some like it even more crowded than Chicago -- how else can you explain people who choose to live in cities like New York and Tokyo?). Yes, there are downsides to living in crowded areas, but there are upsides too.

So let's assume we can reach some optimal average level of population density (I don't think we can, but we'll assume this for the sake of argument). Where on the earth should we place this 150 million? All relatively close? Or spread out? If everyone is spread out, society in the aggregate will slow down, and progress along with it. The scarcity of people in the world will act as a catalyst for this atrophy, likely to the point of inefficient management of earth's natural resources. If everyone is close together, the vast majority of the earth's resources go unused and we end up with the same problems we have right now, only for a smaller number of people (in terms of real numbers, but not in terms of percentages).

These problems exist even leaving aside the morality and ethicality of limiting the population. Birth control is one thing. Your ideal population would require population *reduction*. How do we decide who stays and who goes? How do we decide who gets to reproduce? How do we know we've made the right decision? How do we know there *is* a "right" decision?

Kimball Corson

On how do we know there is an optimum population, the answer can be inferred. We know that, for a given state of productive technology, there are population level – if necessary, reducto ad absurdum – which are too high. Brentbrent has shown that there are also population level that are too low. We can get there by reducto ad absurdum as well (population of one). This implies that there is one (or more) optimum population level somewhere in between. It exists. The problem is what is the optimum population level for say the USA. Next, within the framework of that optimal population, it can be distributed just as people want it to be, with dense Chicagos and less dense LAs and still be the optimum population. Distribution depends on the mix of preferences within that population, not on the absolute level of that population.

The real problem is that the Malthusian factors that used to hold population in check – famine, disease, war, pestilence, etc. – now longer do a very good job of it because we have largely mastered most of them with technology, but our urge to procreate (the uncontrolled consequence of sex) is just as it has been, if not accelerated a bit by mutual and media stimulation.

This situation puts us in a fix. The planet cannot sustain us very well at presently levels. We will be running out of fossil fuels, raw material prices will continue to rise, farming soil is being destroyed, the planet’s atmosphere is warming (in part at least due to us), ice caps and glaciers are melting, major ocean currents that impact weather are changing, along with ocean temperatures, freeways are jammed, even when we build more, the oceans are becoming polluted, fish and other resources are being exhausted from the oceans, the earth’s reefs are dying off, and we have bad air alerts in major cities. Externalities abound in these areas and that means the costs are born by all of us, not those causing them, so the relevant markets become inefficient in the face of these substantial externalities and resources are not allocated by those markets optimally. Basically, in a nutshell, we are fouling our nest, something good birds should not do. The signs are all around us, but like Bush (who refuses to see Gore’s flick by the way, although it gets two thumbs us from the scientific community), we stick our head in the sand and say, “What problem?” We are procreating ourselves off the planet, in short, and the perverse irony of it is that technology lets us screw each other all we want without procreative consequences. Now how stupid is that? No one’s genes are so essential to the population gene pool, but we are drowning ourselves in babies worldwide nonetheless.

These are the ideas that should give rise to the notion of optimum populations worldwide and in the US. We cannot continue as we are for another say 200 years, for as brentbrent suggests, we have made such a big a mess of the planet during first 150 years of the industrial revolution. We lived on earth for many thousands of years before we ever started generating these problems.

Finally, if none of us had children, the population in the US would drop to zero in three to four generations, so the problem is correctable without shooting anyone. If couples for just three or four generations decided to have, on average, 1.5 kids instead of 2, the population would drop by 25 percent; 1 kid, 50 percent. There would be some labor and other market dislocations, but those markets would adjust and so would we, more happily, I think. I believe the idea of optimal populations for the countries of the world is long past due.

Kimball Corson

Roach, I have strong and mixed feelings on immigration. especially inasmuch as much of it is from Mexico where the ruling elite has screwed the population for so long that too much of it flees to the US. We need controlled immigation that makes sense in light of population policies, but our sense of the latter is too underdeveloped and matters are out of hand in regard the former. A real serious question is how do we transition to where we should be. Congress is battling over that one as we write, with sentiment ranging from throw all illegals out becasue they broke the law, to making them all US citizens becasue we need their hard work. We definely need a controlled work program at a minimum. As much as I hate to say it, Bush makes more sense than most in this area. But we seem stuck in the mud and there is too little longer term, good thinking going on in Congress, as constituents are screaming their views. A circus atmosphere prevails and we are stuck, just as I am in my own thinking.

Kimball Corson

A clarification, Law Fairy. I was thinking of 150 million population for the USA, not the world. The present US population is about 300 million. When I was in the Law School in 1970, it was 203.3 million. The difference is a big jump for so few years. Of course, I don't know the optimum US population number, but we should, all things considered.

Levi

Bush's version of a controlled work program could be excellent for America. By allowing in as many workers as we currently need, we can artificially keep ourselves at whatever the optimum number of workers is (say 400 million). Then, once our own population has expanded to the appropriate amount, we can discontinue the program. The best part is that the program allows for currently undocumented workers to become "legal" and keep living here, provided they keep a job and pay taxes. Of course, if a worker should take one too many sick days or go on strike, she or he can be fired and sent back to Mexico. Employers never have to worry about workers quitting, because this would result in deportation. We can then let the "market" forces keep only the most productive for least pay guest workers, creating an underclass that can "do the jobs Americans don't want to do." Perhaps someone with more legal expertise can clarify for me whether or not this would effectively create a status of involuntary servitude for these workers. However, I am fairly sure that since the workers can always return to their country of origin, it won't be a problem.

Kimball Corson

Living presently on my boat in Mexico and visiting the states occasionally, while sailing the world (my sailing blog is http://www.sailblogs.com/member/thewanderer)I see both sides of the immigration problem only too well. The approach of “kick all the illegals out; they broke the law” tends to fail in the specific instance. Let me provide one. I traveled to Chula Vista California recently to get a high-end set of road bike wheels. The “illegal” assistant in the store who sold me the wheels (an even more expensive set than I intended – explaining why) also talked me into a nice set of new tires and a replacement chain as well. He then installed my hub and the tires and did a fabulous job of it and tweaking everything on my bike (even upgrading some screws, free). I spoke to him only in Spanish.

I learned he is here illegally, has been here six years, sends 70% of what he makes to his family in Mexico (it makes a huge difference for them), is taking English courses at night because we wants to be able to read and write English as well as speak it (which he can and does well), is reading a book about American/Mexican history because he thinks he was brainwashed in Mexico on that topic, had a hyper neat workshop, is a ranked U.S. road bicyclist and works part time in two community charities for the poor here in the US. He was neat, clean and meticulous in this work, something I have not really encountered in US bike shops. There is no way I would agree to have him sent back to Mexico. Period. But do I think people should not break the law and enter our country illegally, absolutely. But abstract principles and specific individuals create conflicting situations. So you can see why I am stuck.

Frederick Hamilton

Kimball,

Everybody is stuck. I, like you, believe the illegals already here should have a path toward citizenship. I also agree with the vast majority of Americans that before any legislation allowing for that, we need to see real border security (north and south) and be shown that illegal immigration through our borders can be kept to a "trickle" or a "small seepage". In the tens of thousands at a maximum (not the millions a year now). Then there could be legislation to provide the path to citizenship and the guest worker program and a liberalization of the numbers of "legal" immigrants allowed in annually. We must remain a melting pot. But we must also remain a nation of laws. We must also be to all legal immigrants their nation of choice which would require them to learn the language. I don't object to the attempts to have English only on all official forms, ballots, et al. If the local grocer wants to place Spanish on his store window in Little Havana in Miami or in LA, go for it. But if you want to vote in Miami or LA, or get a drivers license, better learn enough English to pull it off.

But to return to the 1 in 100 theme. Back to global warming. This from Professor Bainbridge today....

"Los Angeles Warming
It's been hot and humid here in Los Angeles this week. Not record breaking, but still uncomfortable, which makes me ponder Robert Samuelson's column unpleasant reading:

Al Gore calls global warming an "inconvenient truth," as if merely recognizing it could put us on a path to a solution. That's an illusion. The real truth is that we don't know enough to relieve global warming, and -- barring major technological breakthroughs -- we can't do much about it. ...

No government will adopt the draconian restrictions on economic growth and personal freedom (limits on electricity usage, driving and travel) that might curb global warming. Still, politicians want to show they're "doing something." The result is grandstanding.

Unfortunately, it sounds about right to me."

I am with Professor Bainbridge on this also. Sounds about right to me. So much for the 1 in 100 thinking by comparing global warming to Islamic terrorist jihadists. Apples and oranges totally.

Publius

RE: Cheney's One Percent Doctrine
_____

Following are the thoughts that leapt to my mind when excerpts of Ron Suskind's THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE first appeared -

Who the hell is Dick Cheney to be promulgating the national risk analysis doctrine Suskind says guided the war on terrorism ever since?

A threat assessment protocol is not something an untrained amateur just pulls out of his rear while standing around the Oval Office with one hand in his pocket.

Especially troubling is Cheney's reported edict that "it's not about the analysis, it's about the response" the moment some superficial threshold is reached.

In light of this revelation, are we to understand, for example, that by the time the Niger yellowcake documents were discovered to have been forged, the White House was already in response mode and thereby constrained by Cheney from reassessing the threat?

Once the phony excuse was in the barn, it seems, Cheney was not about to leave the barn door open.

The National Security Agency surreptitiously collaborated with President Johnson to pull the same stunt in order to launch the Vietnam War.

Which is why Michael Hayden was still keeping that knowledge classified TOP SECRET the day he left NSA in 2005 - historian Robert Hanyok's 2001 finding, uncovered thirty-seven years after the fact, was eventually declassified by Hayden's NSA successor a mere six months ago.

As an unwitting congress deliberated the authorization of force in 2002 and, two years later, as an unsuspecting electorate pondered whether to reelect George Bush, Hayden was deciding for us that one hundred million voters didn't have a need to know that Iraq wouldn't be the first time a president has led the nation into war under false pretenses.

I would just like to add that the same ulterior motives served by Cheney's phony doctrine are also served by Bush's failed intelligence myth.

We can now deconstruct the "failed intelligence" myth -

By the end of January 2003, the weapons, their existence, and any remaining belief in their existence, had become irrelevant to the internal as opposed to the public case for war.

According to yet another leaked British memo, reported in the New York Times on March 27, 2006, Bush privately told Blair as much on the 31st when he confided to the Prime Minister that in any case the invasion would commence on or about March 10.

Once the weapons became irrelevant, the intelligence became essentially fail-proof because its accuracy had become inconsequential.

So, the intelligence may have been flawed, skewed, distorted, hyped, misrepresented, unrepresentative, manipulated, or downright fabricated but, as Bush and Blair are both well aware, it cannot be candidly said to have failed in any meaningful way and therefore never misled either man in any practical sense.

The various intelligence shortcomings, either real or apparent, that have come to be collectively known as the "failed" intelligence, are a myth.

LAK

We know enough to be able to slow our contribution to global warming, whatever that is. Taxes on gasoline, efficiency standards for internal combustion enegines, efficiency standards for home appiances. Nobody is talking about Draconian economy killing measures, just SOME substantive regulation. We simply do not need everyone driving around in SUVs and only paying $3 per gallon of gas. Europeans regulate their energy consuption without falling off the face of the planet, just fine. We could too.

Those fear mongerors who cry economic wolf that regulating fuel efficiency will crush our economy are nothing but politically motivated republicans with vested financial interests in the fossil fuel industry.

And if it is major technological breakthroughs that are needed, we'd better start spending money on reseraching those than fighting ghost wars with ghost enemies that we've created through out bellicose cold war foreign policy.

I must say, conservative republican types are super creepy and kind of make my skin crawl in the way they advocate war but refuse to address obvious environemental problems. In fact, my guess is global warming is 10x more dangerous to the average American in this lifetime than terrorism. However if people really understood that, the Republican war machine would not be able to hand out money to bloodthirsty defense contractors.

Frederick Hamilton

LAK,

Your comment regarding "conservative republican types are super creepy and kind of make my skin crawl in the way they advocate war but refuse to address obvious environemental problems" is not a very civil way to discuss issues. Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, et al can be quite fine people with valid disagreements. We should be able to disagree agreeably as they say. It would be nice if you could accept that view of genial discourse.

LAK


Frederick, this is a blog, not a classroom or courtroom, so you can take your discourse ethics, and your conservative politics, and shove them way up there into your clentched retentive rectum.

I'm just reporting the truth. My skin is crawling all over the place these days each time I realize how many repressed, fearful conservatives are out there supporting a "war" that doesn't really exist, but denying the very obvious problems caused by burning fossil fuels and releasing, in an instant as heat and CO2, chemical energy that took millions of years below the surface of the earth to store in hydrocarbon chains.

The disagreement is not "valid" inasmuch as there is not a "valid" disagreement over the soundness of evolutionary theory. Or has the President's progress from calling global warming "fuzzy science" to "it's a real problem" not registered with you?

Civility is not high on my list when a bunch of rich white guys are ruining our only planet by enriching themselves and their own, and breeding an organized army of myopic conservative lawyers who are hellbent on ruining our system of government and taking us back 200 years. Power indeed does not rest with the people, it rests with the well organized. That is creepy scary and disturbing.

I'm sorry if I upset your comfort zone. Just ignore me if you only like dealing with overly-repressed, always polite, god fearing U of C sophists.

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