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Wonderment
11-24-2010, 08:09 PM
Happy to see Bob pointing out the hypocrisy of Republican claims about government spending:

...the cost of the Afghanistan war already exceeds the cost of the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined, even in inflation-adjusted dollars. At $100 billion a year (seven times the gross domestic product of Afghanistan) this war is feeding a deficit that will eventually take its toll in real, human terms. I encourage Tea Partiers and other fiscal conservatives to ponder the tension between deficit hawkism and military hawkism.


The larger point of Bob's article (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/afghanistan-and-vietnam/?scp=1&sq=robert%20wright&st=cse), however, is that the Bush-Obama Afghanistan War is arguably worse than the Johnson-Nixon Vietnam War because the former debacle makes us more vulnerable to future attack while the latter did not.

Both wars are examples of mission creep and have become bottomless pits of misery, death and waste. The truly horrifying feature of the post-08 escalation is that Obama was warned repeatedly not to become LBJ and not to get sucked into nation-building. He pondered and consulted, studied and strategized, hemmed and hawed, issued disclaimers and stipulations; and he still fell headlong into the ditch.

Wonderment
11-24-2010, 08:59 PM
Good article today on front page of CNN website: "Is America on the Path to Permanent War?" (http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/11/23/war.afghan/index.html?hpt=C1)

Col. Bacevich (who's been on Bheads) also compares Afghanistan to Vietnam by quoting Sen. Wm. Fullbright's warning about our militaristic adventures in Southeast Asia.

[Bacevich] says Obama has been ensnared by the "Washington Rules," a set of assumptions that have guided presidents since Harry Truman.

The rules say that the U.S. should act as a global policeman. "Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland or Detroit," Bacevich writes.

His solution: The U.S. should stop deploying a "global occupation force" and focus on nation-building at home.

"The job is too big," he says of the U.S. global military presence. "We don't have enough money. We don't have enough troops. There's a growing recognition that the amount of red ink we're spilling is unsustainable."
...
"Obama will not make a dent in the American penchant for permanent war," he says. "After he made the 2009 decision to escalate and prolong the war, it indicated quite clearly that he was either unwilling or unable to attempt a large-scale change."

Bacevich says the notion that the U.S. military has to stay in Afghanistan to deny al Qaeda a sanctuary doesn't "pass the laugh test."

operative
11-24-2010, 09:08 PM
Good article today on front page of CNN website: "Is America on the Path to Permanent War?" (http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/11/23/war.afghan/index.html?hpt=C1)

Col. Bacevich (who's been on Bheads) also compares Afghanistan to Vietnam by quoting Sen. Wm. Fullbright's warning about our militaristic adventures in Southeast Asia.

Major failure: ending our military engagement would not bring peace. It would bring a return of the Taliban. That would be utterly awful for most Afghans, particularly those who want to live in the 21st century and not some bizarro, quasi-11th century type environment.

bjkeefe
11-25-2010, 12:27 AM
Major failure: ending our military engagement would not bring peace. It would bring a return of the Taliban. That would be utterly awful for most Afghans, particularly those who want to live in the 21st century and not some bizarro, quasi-11th century type environment.

It never fails to amaze me how in your eagerness to type out your FoxNews-injected Insta-rebuttals, you so often completely miss the core meaning of the very posts you're (ostensibly) responding to.

Let's say it again:

[Bacevich] says Obama has been ensnared by the "Washington Rules," a set of assumptions that have guided presidents since Harry Truman.

The rules say that the U.S. should act as a global policeman. "Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland or Detroit," Bacevich writes.

His solution: The U.S. should stop deploying a "global occupation force" and focus on nation-building at home.

"The job is too big," he says of the U.S. global military presence. "We don't have enough money. We don't have enough troops. There's a growing recognition that the amount of red ink we're spilling is unsustainable."

Part of growing up is being able to recognize when you can't fix every last one of the world's problems, most particularly when you're riddled with your own. You should try to think about this from time to time, and not just indulge in your kneejerk regurgitation of USA!!!1! USA!!!1! USA!!!1! every time someone older and wiser than you points out a hard fucking truth.

operative
11-25-2010, 12:29 AM
It never fails to amaze me how in your eagerness to type your FoxNews-injected talking points, you completely miss the core meaning of the posts you're responding to. To wit:

You really are a one note hack.



Part of growing up is being able to recognize when you can't fix every last one of the world's problems, most particularly when you're riddled with your own. You should try to think about this from time to time, and not just indulge in your kneejerk regurgitation of USA!!!1! USA!!!1! USA!!!1! every time someone older and wiser than you points out a hard fucking truth.

So you're ok with leaving a country to be ruled by cavemen who think girls should be executed for seeking an education or the offense of having been raped. Wonderful. I disagree. Your position is one of cowardice and defeatism.

bjkeefe
11-25-2010, 12:49 AM
So you're ok with leaving a country to be ruled by cavemen who think girls should be executed for seeking an education or the offense of having been raped. Wonderful. I disagree.

Wow. You really are the Jason Mattera of all Donald Douglases, aren't you?

Once again, you have nothing to offer but canned rebuttals, burned into ... whatever it is that throbs between your ears ... by Fox and AM hate radio, and you're still completely ignoring the central point of Wonderment's posts. Even after I explicitly highlighted them.

If you ever want anyone here to take you seriously, stop trying to "win" by pitching ersatz emotional appeals that work only with the sort of scooter-riders who spend their days typing into their Hotmail accounts to keep Bristol Palin on Dancing With The Stars. Or who listen only to their "church fathers" telling them what to think. Because that shit don't fly here.

(? (http://www.newshounds.us/2008/03/18/jason_im_fighting_the_culture_war_here_so_i_dont_h ave_to_fight_the_terrorists_there_mattera_plays_so ldier_on_fox_news.php), ? (http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aamericanpowerblog.blogspot.com+fig hting+the+culture+wars))

operative
11-25-2010, 05:26 PM
Wow. You really are the Jason Mattera of all Donald Douglases, aren't you?

Once again, you have nothing to offer but canned rebuttals, burned into ... whatever it is that throbs between your ears ... by Fox and AM hate radio, and you're still completely ignoring the central point of Wonderment's posts. Even after I explicitly highlighted them.

If you ever want anyone here to take you seriously, stop trying to "win" by pitching ersatz emotional appeals that work only with the sort of scooter-riders who spend their days typing into their Hotmail accounts to keep Bristol Palin on Dancing With The Stars. Or who listen only to their "church fathers" telling them what to think. Because that shit don't fly here.

(? (http://www.newshounds.us/2008/03/18/jason_im_fighting_the_culture_war_here_so_i_dont_h ave_to_fight_the_terrorists_there_mattera_plays_so ldier_on_fox_news.php), ? (http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aamericanpowerblog.blogspot.com+fig hting+the+culture+wars))

It's a very real fact that every person who in any way worked with US forces, and all people who want to have a country that is remotely modern, will be in mortal danger if we leave. Not just mortal danger--many will die. You seem to be unwilling to deal with the consequences of what you support. Own up to it already. Unless you have some secret plan to save the lives of pretty much every sane person in a remotely important position in contemporary Afghanistan, you're leaving them high and dry, and writing it off without much concern. I don't think that's right.

graz
11-25-2010, 05:37 PM
It's a very real fact ...
... that you ignored the original post again.

Not just mortal danger--many will die ... ... If your plan ... how is it a plan anyway? ... is continued.

I don't think that's right.
And well you shouldn't.

operative
11-25-2010, 05:44 PM
... that you ignored the original post again.


The original post doesn't acknowledge the human cost of leaving Afghanistan. So you, or bj, or someone else, should make the case:

"Yes, our allies over there will be tortured and killed, yes women will be murdered if they are raped, yes homosexuals will be executed, yes girls will be prevented from being educated and executed if they are educated, but in spite of all of this, it's worth leaving because..."

Well, why exactly? Think of it as "Just End-of-War Theory."

JonIrenicus
11-25-2010, 09:58 PM
Major failure: ending our military engagement would not bring peace. It would bring a return of the Taliban. That would be utterly awful for most Afghans, particularly those who want to live in the 21st century and not some bizarro, quasi-11th century type environment.

Beside the point. Many of the people against sticking around in Afghanistan do not give a lick about the consequences for the Afghans. It's about me and mine, how does this affect us, how are we seen in the world, how much money does this take from us. These are the big concerns, not the welfare of fellow human beings for its own sake, at least not when it actually COSTS blood and treasure.


The line of human rights ends at the borders of another country. We are allowed to rebuke, but not act with force. Not our problem, not our burden. The self deception comes in the form of convincing oneself that most of not all such armed interventions lead to worse results, and can only cause net misery. This is an attractive perspective to those skittish in the first place to the project of removing tyrants oppressing people too weak to shirk them off themselves. But is this perspective accurate?

Part of this perspective has a parallel in the ethics Peter Singer promotes. The sort of universal altruism and giving FAR more of peoples own excess money. The truth is though, even if it was the case that there was a net good of having wealthier people in wealthier countries give more of their own money, alot of people would just rather not be bothered helping some mud covered street urchin get a few more meals against the backdrop of extra cash for that lexus payment, or a nice smartphone data plan, etc. etc. Net good, maybe, and that means people would be gung ho giving up their luxuries for the "other?"


Whether people want to admit it or not, I think SOME of the antagonism to the sort of interventions and military actions abroad stems from a selfishness. If it was a given that such interventions and actions DID have some net good in terms of the lives of Afghans, at the cost of resources and blood of Americans (but still a net positive in terms of human prosperity and flourishing), do you think the antagonism would evaporate?

If not, then part of the source of that antagonism might be a general feeling of disinterest about the welfare of other human beings, at least when there is an actual Cost to us. Yes, conservatives are the only group with a callousness towards the other, liberals are totally free from these sorts of human vices... or not. Any argument about financial cost is FLOODED with a notion of keeping our money and resources with ME and MINE, forget the other, whatever the effects, good or bad (what's it to us, what about OUR needs, what about an extra coat of pain on OUR school, who CARES about potential saving of human life in some far off place, what's it to us ?). That is not altruism, which is probably appropriate on some level. A Peter Singer model of the world seems to go against human nature, but I do wish people would drop the pretension that a policy of interventions in far off places in the world at personal costs and negatives to us is more pernicious in character than altruistic.


I get it, you don't want to be bothered at the start, and some of that colors your perceptions of what is possible to achieve through pathways that tap those costs you don't like. I am the same way. I am as callous and uncaring as you all are. With one exception. When there is spillover from failed/brutalized/oppressed societies, then my willingness to get involved increases. And my toolset of options I am OK with being deployed are less purely pacifistic in scope.

graz
11-26-2010, 12:34 AM
(...)
Why don't you high-tail it to the Korean peninsula pronto. I bet your video game skills will prove effective against the tyranny. It's the right thing to do, in light of your moral superiority, right? I mean ... come on ... you're even a blood descendant ... how can you not go?

Wonderment
11-26-2010, 02:13 AM
When there is spillover from failed/brutalized/oppressed societies, then my willingness to get involved increases.

How exactly have you been involved in the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq?

You sound very willing, so I'm sure you're not just blabbing about fighting while urging high school students to go die for the cause. You must be a combat veteran of both wars.

JonIrenicus
11-26-2010, 03:14 AM
Why don't you high-tail it to the Korean peninsula pronto. I bet your video game skills will prove effective against the tyranny. It's the right thing to do, in light of your moral superiority, right? I mean ... come on ... you're even a blood descendant ... how can you not go?

Granted that was meant as an annoying little troll post, but let's look at Korea.

The reason South Korea puts up with North Korean attacks/tantrums and does all it can to avoid full scale war is because it wants to preserve the lives and cities and economy of its people. Doing so is not costless in terms of human welfare in a global sense. South Korea remains relatively prosperous and safe, while many North Koreans face malnourishment, concentration camps or worse. The status quo in North Korea is a disaster, it's mere existence in such a state increases the sum total of human misery in the world. It is not wrong to end such a state, through soft OR hard power. It is not wrong to want to avoid the costs of the hard power solution either. And so the South Koreans make a perfectly rational decision to look after their own interest first. They don't choose to sacrifice their own welfare to increase the welfare of those to the north. That's fine. But don't you think there is some selfishness in that? Rational selfishness, certainly, but selfishness just the same?


It is rational in a pragmatic sense as well if the two koreas ever come to terms peacefully. And if they do not? Then the delay will have increased the amount of human misery when the conflict comes. More people, more property and wealth to destroy today or 20 years from now compared to 40 years ago. If such a thing occurred, there would be a great deal of human misery created because of the conflict, and a great deal prevented by ending the reign of the Northern state sooner.

Are you wise enough to adjudicate which path leads to less total suffering through the ages?


I am glad it is so straight forward for you though graz. I suppose you would have been a core proponent of preservation of the union at all costs, decrying the recklessness of the abolitionists for provoking armed conflict to end slavery. Warning of the Terrible cost in lives of such actions if they continued to provoke the south. Well, the hypothetical you would have been completely correct. The cost WAS terrible, over 600,000 deaths. Why not not let the institution continue on, see if a less bloody resolution could be found? Was that worth it?

If I went with, yes, who among you could say I was wrong?

kezboard
11-26-2010, 05:17 AM
Are you wise enough to adjudicate which path leads to less total suffering through the ages?

Nobody is. Good thing this is nobody's job.

Haven't you ever read some sort of alternate history thing where Hitler is accepted to art school but despite the horrors of Nazi Germany never coming to pass, the world actually ends up worse by the end of the 20th century? The rational response to reading something like this is not "Turns out it actually was a good thing Hitler came to power" but rather "How interesting! You know, it's really true that when a butterfly flaps its wings, it causes a hurricane on the other side of the world. I guess the only thing I can do is try to make the most moral decisions for myself right now".

Ocean
11-26-2010, 07:32 AM
Part of this perspective has a parallel in the ethics Peter Singer promotes. The sort of universal altruism and giving FAR more of peoples own excess money. The truth is though, even if it was the case that there was a net good of having wealthier people in wealthier countries give more of their own money, alot of people would just rather not be bothered helping some mud covered street urchin get a few more meals against the backdrop of extra cash for that lexus payment, or a nice smartphone data plan, etc. etc. Net good, maybe, and that means people would be gung ho giving up their luxuries for the "other?"

Whoa. For some reason I thought you were a conservative. The kind that says that people have to pull themselves up from poverty and other miseries on their own, that helping people makes them only dependent and the like. I guess I misunderstood you before. Now I see your altruism applies to those who are in precarious conditions everywhere, inside and outside this country.



If not, then part of the source of that antagonism might be a general feeling of disinterest about the welfare of other human beings, at least when there is an actual Cost to us. Yes, conservatives are the only group with a callousness towards the other, liberals are totally free from these sorts of human vices... or not. Any argument about financial cost is FLOODED with a notion of keeping our money and resources with ME and MINE, forget the other, whatever the effects, good or bad (what's it to us, what about OUR needs, what about an extra coat of pain on OUR school, who CARES about potential saving of human life in some far off place, what's it to us ?). That is not altruism, which is probably appropriate on some level. A Peter Singer model of the world seems to go against human nature, but I do wish people would drop the pretension that a policy of interventions in far off places in the world at personal costs and negatives to us is more pernicious in character than altruistic.


I get it, you don't want to be bothered at the start, and some of that colors your perceptions of what is possible to achieve through pathways that tap those costs you don't like. I am the same way. I am as callous and uncaring as you all are. With one exception. When there is spillover from failed/brutalized/oppressed societies, then my willingness to get involved increases. And my toolset of options I am OK with being deployed are less purely pacifistic in scope.

I'm all excited waiting to hear what you think we should do about the situation in various countries in Africa. Talk about failed/brutalized and oppressed societies! How much aid and troops should we send to help there? Do you think that ten years of intervention there would be enough? Or would we need twenty or more?

Ah, also, in terms of selfishness and altruism, remind me, why was it exactly that the US decided to go to invade Iraq and Afganistan? I thought it was because the US had some direct interest by being threatened by terrorist organizations or by virtue of imaginary WMD and other material vested interests.

PS: Jon, if you want to get on a morality high chair you'll need to work a bit harder. This one doesn't fly.

operative
11-26-2010, 08:57 AM
..blabbing about fighting while urging high school students to go die for the cause.

This is what I don't like about anti-war activists: This works both ways but you don't realize it. You're basically urging us to have Afghanis go die for your cause, because if we leave Afghanistan, all known cooperators, all modernizers, etc. are dead.

graz
11-26-2010, 11:34 AM
This is what I don't like about anti-war activists: This works both ways but you don't realize it. You're basically urging us to have Afghanis go die for your cause, because if we leave Afghanistan, all known cooperators, all modernizers, etc. are dead.

This is what I don't like about pro-war proponents: You're basically urging us to kill more people so as to prevent more people from being killed. Is the consolation that you get to choose the victim?

operative
11-26-2010, 11:54 AM
This is what I don't like about pro-war proponents: You're basically urging us to kill more people so as to prevent more people from being killed. Is the consolation that you get to choose the victim?

So instead you get to choose the victim.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 01:47 PM
So instead you get to choose the victim.

Do you remember what the history of the US involvement with Afghanistan has been since around the time of the Soviet invasion? Whose interests was the US defending?

We really need to stop messing with other countries.

operative
11-26-2010, 01:53 PM
Do you remember what the history of the US involvement with Afghanistan has been since around the time of the Soviet invasion? Whose interests was the US defending?

We really need to stop messing with other countries.

That's an argument against future invasions (and I wouldn't make such a blanket statement--take each on an individual basis)--it's saying we shouldn't enter in to conflicts, which is different than saying we should get out of Afghanistan.

I actually think we should be more proactive. Rwanda circa 94 has been discussed on here before but there are other examples--Congo, during the Congolese civil wars, for one. Zimbabwe once Mugabe went completely over the edge and hyperinflation set in. Burma. Etc. Not just America--other wealthy countries, too. Foreign aid, financially, is, for the most part, more of a hindrance than a help (see: Dead Aid), but military aid doesn't have to be.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 02:22 PM
That's an argument against future invasions (and I wouldn't make such a blanket statement--take each on an individual basis)--it's saying we shouldn't enter in to conflicts, which is different than saying we should get out of Afghanistan.

I actually think we should be more proactive. Rwanda circa 94 has been discussed on here before but there are other examples--Congo, during the Congolese civil wars, for one. Zimbabwe once Mugabe went completely over the edge and hyperinflation set in. Burma. Etc. Not just America--other wealthy countries, too. Foreign aid, financially, is, for the most part, more of a hindrance than a help (see: Dead Aid), but military aid doesn't have to be.

I don't understand how it is possible to think that government should stay out of domestic business while being militarily interventionist in foreign affairs. The same goes for the concern shown for Afghans while having so much indifference for people within this country.

I don't think the US should pick up and leave Afghanistan without making sure there's a minimal stability in the country. The question is what if stability can't be reached at all? For how long is it reasonable to stay then? Should the US have more support from other countries?

I dread that anyone would want to initiate US military participation anywhere else. When so many Republicans and libertarians are outraged by the deficit, why would we want to keep throwing trillions somewhere else?

operative
11-26-2010, 02:51 PM
I don't understand how it is possible to think that government should stay out of domestic business while being militarily interventionist in foreign affairs.

It's a matter of what you believe government exists for. I think government should mostly stick to a very, very limited role--security and law and order. And I think that it should be willing to extend these fundamental qualities to countries in need when able.



The same goes for the concern shown for Afghans while having so much indifference for people within this country.

On the contrary, if there were people wanting to turn us into a backwards 11th century Islamic state and executing those who disagree with their interpretation of the Koran, I'd be a mite alarmed and determined to prevail against them.


I don't think the US should pick up and leave Afghanistan without making sure there's a minimal stability in the country. The question is what if stability can't be reached at all? For how long is it reasonable to stay then? Should the US have more support from other countries?

Well the last question is the easiest to answer--YES! :p

But we are basically agreeing with each other at least so far as your first sentence--I'm not saying stay in Afghanistan until it becomes a developed country, but let's not leave until we are secure in our knowledge that neither the Taliban nor any Taliban-like group will gain power.

I do think that we can prevail--the National Review had a good article a few issues back, entitled "Graveyard of a Cliche," that argued pretty effectively that the notion that Afghanistan can not be made stable because it has only been handled essentially one time in its history doesn't really stand up to investigation.

I don't know how long it will take, but I think we should be prepared to stay in until the mission is accomplished, no matter the costs--we spent considerably longer, and lost far more troops, in the Philippines.


I dread that anyone would want to initiate S military participation anywhere else. When so many Republicans and libertarians are outraged by the deficit, why would we want to keep throwing trillions somewhere else?

In economic terms, I think it will tremendously help the global economy--the Congo has vastly under-utilized resources, which could help not only the country itself, and not just the continent itself, but the entire world. The Congo's an extreme example in this respect, and obviously Burma doesn't have such resources, but my argument is in the end not an economic one (though economics helps): it is a humanitarian one, and it stems from the very libertarian philosophy that government should be first, and primarily, concerned with security and law and order.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 02:59 PM
Libertarianism tries to redefine so many things without any reality based evidence that it's difficult to follow. Perhaps the chaos we have in this country is partly due to protolibertarian principles failing miserably.

operative
11-26-2010, 03:12 PM
Libertarianism tries to redefine so many things without any reality based evidence that it's difficult to follow. Perhaps the chaos we have in this country is partly due to protolibertarian principles failing miserably.

I certainly wouldn't call this country protolibertarian (second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, relatively high marginal tax rate and overall tax burden, etc.), and I also wouldn't say we have any sort of chaos, early Black Friday morning exempted.

As for reality based evidence, we have ample evidence that lower tax rates spur growth. We don't have what I (or most libertarians) would consider to be a libertarian government example in modern history, at least not one that I'm aware of. But to that I say: so what? Before American democracy, there wasn't really much of an example in modern history, and even the classical examples weren't really all that democratic upon closer inspection. So, anti-democrats could've made the exact same evidence--where's the reality-based evidence? To which I say: give libertarianism a chance :p

Hong Kong might be the closest to libertarianism of any place on Earth. And I'd love to live there.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 04:10 PM
I certainly wouldn't call this country protolibertarian (second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, relatively high marginal tax rate and overall tax burden, etc.), and I also wouldn't say we have any sort of chaos, early Black Friday morning exempted.

As for reality based evidence, we have ample evidence that lower tax rates spur growth. We don't have what I (or most libertarians) would consider to be a libertarian government example in modern history, at least not one that I'm aware of. But to that I say: so what? Before American democracy, there wasn't really much of an example in modern history, and even the classical examples weren't really all that democratic upon closer inspection. So, anti-democrats could've made the exact same evidence--where's the reality-based evidence? To which I say: give libertarianism a chance :p

Hong Kong might be the closest to libertarianism of any place on Earth. And I'd love to live there.

Considering the resources that this country has it's a shame that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, that we don't have universal health coverage, that unemployment is close to 10%, that the financial debacle was due to libertarian inspired poorly regulated policies, that we have such a high crime and incarceration rates compared to other developed countries, that we have the highest military expenditure, that we haven't even come around to taking steps to decrease anthropogenic climate change, that we are behind on education, that we have two wars going and a couple more in the making, etc, etc.

But we do have the richest people in the world. They haven't been affected.

I call that chaos.

kezboard
11-26-2010, 05:20 PM
Zimbabwe once Mugabe went completely over the edge and hyperinflation set in.

OK, I'll bite. What would you have wanted to happen in Zimbabwe? I'm assuming you realize that a foreign-sponsored coup against Mugabe, who is certainly a crazy dictator but was also the leader of the struggle against colonialism, would not have worked out very well. So what should we (or anyone else) have done?

cragger
11-26-2010, 05:51 PM
... financial debacle was due to libertarian inspired poorly regulated policies ...

I grant you that plenty of people including various blogging heads insist that they are libertarians, at times despite favoring all sorts of government control over people's personal lives, and simultaneously claim that policies designed to concentrate wealth are somehow libertarian and thus enhance freedom and expand individual rights. I have a very expansive view of personal freedom and a pretty Millsian view on the limitations of justifiable use of the coercive power of the state, but find that policies that promote the unfettered concentrated accumulation of wealth are those that most directly reduce rights and freedoms. After all, if I own all of Vermont, or all the water west of the Rockies, an oil field, copper mine, or whatever, the very essence of my ownership is that of the denial of the rights of every other human being the access, use, or benefit of my holdings. It seems to me that there is a fundamental and unreconcilable conflict between a basic libertarian ideal of maximizing expression of natural rights and freedoms flowing from the individual, and the economic claptrap that self-proclaimed libertarians promote in the interests of maximizing concentration of wealth.

AemJeff
11-26-2010, 05:57 PM
I grant you that plenty of people including various blogging heads insist that they are libertarians, at times despite favoring all sorts of government control over people's personal lives, and simultaneously claim that policies designed to concentrate wealth are somehow libertarian and thus enhance freedom and expand individual rights. I have a very expansive view of personal freedom and a pretty Millsian view on the limitations of justifiable use of the coercive power of the state, but find that policies that promote the unfettered concentrated accumulation of wealth are those that most directly reduce rights and freedoms. After all, if I own all of Vermont, or all the water west of the Rockies, an oil field, copper mine, or whatever, the very essence of my ownership is that of the denial of the rights of every other human being the access, use, or benefit of my holdings. It seems to me that there is a fundamental and unreconcilable conflict between a basic libertarian ideal of maximizing expression of natural rights and freedoms flowing from the individual, and the economic claptrap that self-proclaimed libertarians promote in the interests of maximizing concentration of wealth.

I couldn't agree more; and despite having tried to to say something similar many times, have never said it better.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 06:26 PM
I grant you that plenty of people including various blogging heads insist that they are libertarians, at times despite favoring all sorts of government control over people's personal lives, and simultaneously claim that policies designed to concentrate wealth are somehow libertarian and thus enhance freedom and expand individual rights. I have a very expansive view of personal freedom and a pretty Millsian view on the limitations of justifiable use of the coercive power of the state, but find that policies that promote the unfettered concentrated accumulation of wealth are those that most directly reduce rights and freedoms. After all, if I own all of Vermont, or all the water west of the Rockies, an oil field, copper mine, or whatever, the very essence of my ownership is that of the denial of the rights of every other human being the access, use, or benefit of my holdings. It seems to me that there is a fundamental and unreconcilable conflict between a basic libertarian ideal of maximizing expression of natural rights and freedoms flowing from the individual, and the economic claptrap that self-proclaimed libertarians promote in the interests of maximizing concentration of wealth.

I agree with you and with Jeff's post. It's funny because after I wrote my previous post I got on my treadmill and I was thinking how much BS from the so called libertarians we have to read everyday in this forum now. As I was trying to figure what bothers me the most about it, I came to realize exactly what your post describes so well. This is not about being libertarian, it's about protecting the power of wealth above all else. Sure, more freedom for those who have wealth.

I went on to wonder whether those in the right (whoever those are) have figured that they have to (paradoxically) modernize conservatism to be able to keep younger people on their side. So libertarians provide that platform, socially liberals, protection of freedom and even more protection of capital and wealth. As usual, military policies would be at odds, but this revamped brand of pseudo libertarianism is interventionist, because they care deeply for our fellow human beings (as long as there's some rich resources to be gained in the horizon). BS!

I have been reading operative and some of his likes in this forum for a while. Not only I don't buy his ideas, I think they are designed for political manipulation, whether he's aware or not.

operative
11-26-2010, 06:50 PM
OK, I'll bite. What would you have wanted to happen in Zimbabwe? I'm assuming you realize that a foreign-sponsored coup against Mugabe, who is certainly a crazy dictator but was also the leader of the struggle against colonialism, would not have worked out very well. So what should we (or anyone else) have done?

I think the best action would've been to fund and supply a joint African force consisting of South Africans, Botswanans, Namibians etc. Botswana is the least corrupt country of the three so they're probably the main force that would have been good to work with.

graz
11-26-2010, 06:54 PM
I have been reading operative and some of his likes in this forum for a while. Not only I don't buy his ideas, I think they are designed for political manipulation, whether he's aware or not.

It would be too funny and a little bit sad if he chose his handle without that in mind. Talk about fooling oneself.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 07:01 PM
It would be too funny and a little bit sad if he chose his handle without that in mind. Talk about fooling oneself.

My trusting nature betrays me. :(

operative
11-26-2010, 07:05 PM
Considering the resources that this country has it's a shame that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen,
that we don't have universal health coverage, that unemployment is close to 10%, that the financial debacle was due to libertarian inspired poorly regulated policies, that we have such a high crime and incarceration rates compared to other developed countries, that we have the highest military expenditure, that we haven't even come around to taking steps to decrease anthropogenic climate change, that we are behind on education, that we have two wars going and a couple more in the making, etc, etc.

But we do have the richest people in the world. They haven't been affected.

I call that chaos.

A whole lot of charges there.

Ok, so taking them individually: I much prefer a system that makes everyone wealthier, which will invariably lead to the more driven, the more able, etc. accruing wealth at a faster rate. I think this is the natural process for people free of social meddling. I don't see how this is related to chaos--quite the opposite, in fact. It'd be chaos if everyone were losing their wealth.

Unemployment I'll give you (10% is definitely higher than what the optimal level would be for the US); health care I won't but I'm sure you know that. Health care would be a mighty big subtopic to get into.

I disagree with the notion that the problem was libertarian-inspired policies. All of our housing policies, some of which helped accelerate the housing crisis (mortgage assistance etc.) are essentially the opposite of libertarian--they're government meddling. There were one or two unwise deregulations--one was on naked shorts, and I forget the other one. But there were huge problems and I think these related more to government contortions of the market than anything else.

for military spending, I think it's useful to observe things from a percentage basis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

You'll see that the US is hardly grossly disproportionate. We spend more, but we're involved more, and we are targeted more. I think this is entirely to be expected. All of the other countries that spend a lot on the military--Georgia, Israel, Colombia, etc. experience the same thing. Far from chaos, this is to prevent chaos.

I don't think there are any more wars in the works; I'll grant you that we have problems with education but this is strictly a cultural problem and if we get enough immigrants we'll go a long way toward solving it.

So, I have to say, if this is chaos, then it's really not that bad. Compare it to Greece, France, and England, which are having significant problems with violent rioting, Iceland and Ireland, which faced near financial collapse, South Korea, which has a quite literally insane family ruling a cult nation directly north of them and routinely murdering their citizens, etc.

operative
11-26-2010, 07:08 PM
I have been reading operative and some of his likes in this forum for a while. Not only I don't buy his ideas, I think they are designed for political manipulation, whether he's aware or not.

You've also read plenty of my dislikes.

I think that there are relatively few members who are substantially like me--Unit is a bit more in the Objectivist school of thought, WH is closer but I think he's a bit more liberal than me (not a RINO though, rcocean charges aside) and rcocean is very different than me. Denville is probably more different than me than most liberals are from each other on here. Badhatharry might come close to my ideology. I think Fluffy is ideologically close.

Libertarianism is different than American liberalism in approach, this I will grant you. American liberalism starts with the foundation "government can fix all that's wrong with society" and then sets out to find which increases in government are the most productive, and how to direct these inevitable increases in the size and scope of government.

Libertarianism conversely is concerned with keeping government out of peoples' lives, and as such, doesn't really care about the discussions of which specific government increase should be implemented. The point is to keep government out, for the sake of liberty and the dignity of the individual.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 07:23 PM
Ok, so taking them individually: I much prefer a system that makes everyone wealthier, which will invariably lead to the more driven, the more able, etc. accruing wealth at a faster rate. I think this is the natural process for people free of social meddling. I don't see how this is related to chaos--quite the opposite, in fact. It'd be chaos if everyone were losing their wealth.


The story that in order to help the poor you have to give it to the rich, so that it eventually trickles down to them, is, well, just a story. There is no such natural process. Economic power engenders more power. There's a limit beyond which wealth becomes toxic to the rest of society.

If you want to help the poor, so something directly to help them. The rich don't need any more help.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 07:40 PM
Libertarianism is different than American liberalism in approach, this I will grant you. American liberalism starts with the foundation "government can fix all that's wrong with society" and then sets out to find which increases in government are the most productive, and how to direct these inevitable increases in the size and scope of government.

Libertarianism conversely is concerned with keeping government out of peoples' lives, and as such, doesn't really care about the discussions of which specific government increase should be implemented. The point is to keep government out, for the sake of liberty and the dignity of the individual.

No, the idea is that private capital only wants its own profit without regards to the rest of society. One of the roles of government is to prevent exploitation of the section of the population that lacks the resources to stand in equal grounds with those who possess power and wealth. It's a role of balancing. It's based on understanding human nature and greed. The latter proven by the policies that corporations adopt regarding how they deal with their own employees and customers. The concentration of wealth-based power only leads to inequality.

Others in this forum have repeatedly articulated that the liberty and dignity of all individuals is better protected when there are limits to the power of those who accumulate wealth. Poverty takes away freedom and dignity. So, no, I don't agree with any of your claims and ideas. Your proposed ideology has as a main goal to protect accumulated wealth. The rest is an afterthought at best.

operative
11-26-2010, 07:48 PM
The story that in order to help the poor you have to give it to the rich, so that it eventually trickles down to them, is, well, just a story. There is no such natural process. Economic power engenders more power. There's a limit beyond which wealth becomes toxic to the rest of society.

There's a natural process of wealth creation for non-wealthy too--just look at the spread of industrialization and free trade in the contemporary world, which has irrefutably raised the standard of living for people in countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

The same thing that happens on an international level happens on a national level--tax breaks for businesses lead to new jobs as new sectors and innovations are made. New industries evolve etc. It's a dynamic and beautiful process.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 07:53 PM
It's a dynamic and beautiful process.

If that's the case, something must be corrupting it, because there are sections of the population that are being left behind, very far from anything beautiful. If you don't understand something as simple as that, I don't think there's much more to be said.

But I do have a question, what do you do for a living? How do you support yourself? Just curious.

operative
11-26-2010, 08:00 PM
No, the idea is that private capital only wants its own profit without regards to the rest of society. One of the roles of government is to prevent exploitation of the section of the population that lacks the resources to stand in equal grounds with those who possess power and wealth. It's a role of balancing. It's based on understanding human nature and greed. The latter proven by the policies that corporations adopt regarding how they deal with their own employees and customers. The concentration of wealth-based power only leads to inequality.

Greed is the engine that drives creativity. Most people don't work hard out of a desire to help others so much as it is to get a paycheck. You can't change that. If you don't have "too big to fail" (a problem of companies expecting to be bailed out), then you curb the most reckless of behavior. The biggest problem is when government and business become enmeshed, leading to chosen companies getting corporate welfare. This is when companies are able to behave unethically--a properly run company will not do ridiculous things because they know that it will come down on them and competitors will usurp them.


Others in this forum have repeatedly articulated that the liberty and dignity of all individuals is better protected when there are limits to the power of those who accumulate wealth. Poverty takes away freedom and dignity. So, no, I don't agree with any of your claims and ideas. Your proposed ideology has as a main goal to protect accumulated wealth. The rest is an afterthought at best.

I don't see that anything takes away dignity so much as the welfare state. If you want to see people whose dignity has been lost, go to a government-funded housing project. I think that the movie Precious captures this incredibly well. Government-run charity drills into people, "You can't do it on your own, you need us!"

operative
11-26-2010, 08:04 PM
If that's the case, something must be corrupting it, because there are sections of the population that are being left behind, very far from anything beautiful. If you don't understand something as simple as that, I don't think there's much more to be said.

There are certainly pockets of the country that have extremely little in the way of industry, education etc. Places that are essentially black holes--in economic opportunity, food, etc. It's unfortunate but in an extremely large and diverse country like America, it's also unavoidable--we're not Sweden, we don't have a small and homogeneous population centered around a few relatively close areas.


But I do have a question, what do you do for a living? How do you support yourself? Just curious.

I'm in the academic sector (pretty vague, I know). So yes, I am pretty thoroughly removed from the process that I am praising, but that's because virtually all of my skills have always lent themselves much better to the academic environment than the private sector.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 08:22 PM
I don't see that anything takes away dignity so much as the welfare state. If you want to see people whose dignity has been lost, go to a government-funded housing project. I think that the movie Precious captures this incredibly well. Government-run charity drills into people, "You can't do it on your own, you need us!"

I wonder where you're getting those stories from. That's why in another comment I asked you what you do for a living. Your perspective seems far removed from reality.

I know what poverty looks like. The welfare state that you talk about is only a small portion of the reality that I have been witnessing for the last couple of decades. The cliche of government telling people "You can't do it on your own, you need us!" as if that was the reason why people can't get out of poverty is outdated. The message that's given now is "if you can do it on your own do it, because there's very little that we can give you."

operative
11-26-2010, 08:39 PM
I wonder where you're getting those stories from. That's why in another comment I asked you what you do for a living. Your perspective seems far removed from reality.

I grew up in a fairly poor neighborhood whose unemployment is consistently significantly above the national average; many residents live in government subsidized housing, and it's a generational issue that has established an artificial culture that is reliant upon government subsidies and has absolutely no ambition. That's why Precious struck such a chord--it's a very truthful movie (it was based on a novel by a woman who grew up in exactly that type of environment, too). When the mother character says, "get your (butt) down to the welfare," repeatedly telling her daughter that she wasn't good for anything other than collecting welfare, it perfectly captured the culture that the Anything but Great Society created.

Moreover, I routinely ride public transportation in a metropolitan area. And I routinely hear stories that continue to illustrate the truthfulness of the movie. Mothers who have five kids with five different men, who don't take care of their children, who see them only as a means to get a bigger check, etc.



I know what poverty looks like. The welfare state that you talk about is only a small portion of the reality that I have been witnessing for the last couple of decades. The cliche of government telling people "You can't do it on your own, you need us!" as if that was the reason why people can't get out of poverty is outdated. The message that's given now is "if you can do it on your own do it, because there's very little that we can give you."

But that is the reason--that's the whole point. We have a huge problem in this country of inner city residents, especially African Americans, not graduating high school, having extraordinarily high illegitimacy rates to the point where the fundamental structure of the family is evaporating, etc. The incarceration rates, lower life expectancy (I think it's in the 60s), etc. are all unavoidable. And it's not because African Americans or any other group are 'naturally' more prone to that than anyone else--it's because government has been drilling into them, through the wretched social programs, that they're not good enough on their own, and that they need government. It creates a dependency, the same thing as huge amounts of foreign aid. It simply masks one problem by creating another.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 08:49 PM
I grew up in a fairly poor neighborhood whose unemployment is consistently significantly above the national average; many residents live in government subsidized housing, and it's a generational issue that has established an artificial culture that is reliant upon government subsidies and has absolutely no ambition. That's why Precious struck such a chord--it's a very truthful movie (it was based on a novel by a woman who grew up in exactly that type of environment, too). When the mother character says, "get your (butt) down to the welfare," repeatedly telling her daughter that she wasn't good for anything other than collecting welfare, it perfectly captured the culture that the Anything but Great Society created.

Moreover, I routinely ride public transportation in a metropolitan area. And I routinely hear stories that continue to illustrate the truthfulness of the movie. Mothers who have five kids with five different men, who don't take care of their children, who see them only as a means to get a bigger check, etc.
But that is the reason--that's the whole point. We have a huge problem in this country of inner city residents, especially African Americans, not graduating high school, having extraordinarily high illegitimacy rates to the point where the fundamental structure of the family is evaporating, etc. The incarceration rates, lower life expectancy (I think it's in the 60s), etc. are all unavoidable. And it's not because African Americans or any other group are 'naturally' more prone to that than anyone else--it's because government has been drilling into them, through the wretched social programs, that they're not good enough on their own, and that they need government. It creates a dependency, the same thing as huge amounts of foreign aid. It simply masks one problem by creating another.

All the above topics have been covered in this forum extensively in the past. I'm not going to start an endless discussion again.

I can only tell you that we need more employment and a more balanced distribution of wealth. The welfare system has been going through various reforms and perhaps needs more fine tuning, but it's far from the main culprit for the problems that you mention. Poverty goes beyond African Americans and the projects. It involves an ever growing section of the population. The middle class is also sliding downhill. That's the reality that needs to be changed.

Giving tax breaks to the rich and wealthy will not solve any problems.

I'm pretty much at the end of my interest in this topic.

operative
11-26-2010, 09:02 PM
All the above topics have been covered in this forum extensively in the past. I'm not going to start an endless discussion again.

I can only tell you that we need more employment and a more balanced distribution of wealth. The welfare system has been going through various reforms and perhaps needs more fine tuning, but it's far from the main culprit for the problems that you mention. Poverty goes beyond African Americans and the projects. It involves an ever growing section of the population. The middle class is also sliding downhill. That's the reality that needs to be changed.

Giving tax breaks to the rich and wealthy will not solve any problems.

I'm pretty much at the end of my interest in this topic.

I think the problem for many middle class people is that they have no ability to manage money. The don't save--they simply spend, spend, spend, borrow borrow borrow. Case in point: a relative of mine, married couple both of whom have decent jobs (joint income around $100K), who do not save a penny, buy whatever they want, spend ridiculous sums of money on their kid, and now are trying to declare bankruptcy. They had no fluctuation in their income etc. They just can't manage money. This is the case with many middle class people and, though I'm sure you'll disagree, I blame a decline of spirituality--materialism replaces faith as the source of fulfillment.

Wonderment
11-26-2010, 09:14 PM
I'm in the academic sector (pretty vague, I know).

Why are you not in the military sector?

I am writing from San Diego today. Big military town. It's a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. At the zoo I saw quite a few young men in wheelchairs. My educated guess is that at least some of them got limbs blown off in Iraq. The worst cases you don't see, of course; they're in hospitals and nursing homes, often with severe brain injuries. Very disturbing. Last week at a peace demonstration I saw a friend who's been in a wheelchair since Vietnam in 1968. His wife has been pushing the chair for 42 years, since he, like the Iraq vets, was plucked out of high school to get maimed or killed in a stupid war.

It's too easy to get worked up into a chicken hawk tizzy and intoxicated on militaristic ideology when other people's lives are the ones that get ruined. I look at Cheney and Bush today and I see two men who are still smirking, winking and rationalizing. They don't really understand the devastation of war; it's an emotional defect of character, I think. They seem even more savage, stupid and unrepentant than the warmongers of the previous generation. At least Johnson and McNamara felt the shame of their folly.

It's not too late to learn from our catastrophic propensity for violence, but there has to be a major shift in sensibilities and priorities. It bodes ill for the country that Republicans have learned nothing from the galling military travesties of the 21st century and that the Dems. have apparently learned too little from the abysss that was Vietnam.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 09:17 PM
I think the problem for many middle class people is that they have no ability to manage money. The don't save--they simply spend, spend, spend, borrow borrow borrow. Case in point: a relative of mine, married couple both of whom have decent jobs (joint income around $100K), who do not save a penny, buy whatever they want, spend ridiculous sums of money on their kid, and now are trying to declare bankruptcy. They had no fluctuation in their income etc. They just can't manage money. This is the case with many middle class people and, though I'm sure you'll disagree, I blame a decline of spirituality--materialism replaces faith as the source of fulfillment.

I disagree with the claim that the reason why the middle class is disappearing is their inability to save. If that's the case, then we have to figure out why so many millions of people have the same problem.

As to the last part of your comment, indeed consumerism is a sad development in the last century. It has replaced morality and solidarity more than spirituality. That's why I think it's obscene that the rich continue to accumulate wealth. What for? More materialism? Have them redistribute to those in need. Have the rich pay higher taxes and let the government create more jobs to improve infrastructure, instead of canceling big construction projects like Christie did in New Jersey. Can you imagine how many more people are losing their jobs because of him?

Ah, let's not get into that rant. There's no way we'll agree.

operative
11-26-2010, 09:32 PM
Why are you not in the military sector?

Skill set. I'd make a rather horrible soldier.


I am writing from San Diego today. Big military town. It's a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. At the zoo I saw quite a few young men in wheelchairs. My educated guess is that at least some of them got limbs blown off in Iraq. The worst cases you don't see, of course; they're in hospitals and nursing homes, often with severe brain injuries. Very disturbing. Last week at a peace demonstration I saw a friend who's been in a wheelchair since Vietnam in 1968. His wife has been pushing the chair for 42 years, since he, like the Iraq vets, was plucked out of high school to get maimed or killed in a stupid war.

There's a major difference--nobody is "plucked out" of high school today. They volunteer.


It's too easy to get worked up into a chicken hawk tizzy and intoxicated on militaristic ideology when other people's lives are the ones that get ruined. I look at Cheney and Bush today and I see two men who are still smirking, winking and rationalizing. They don't really understand the devastation of war; it's an emotional defect of character, I think. They seem even more savage, stupid and unrepentant than the warmongers of the previous generation. At least Johnson and McNamara felt the shame of their folly.

I disagree entirely on Bush, and I think that you are greatly underestimating the empathy the man possesses.

operative
11-26-2010, 09:35 PM
I disagree with the claim that the reason why the middle class is disappearing is their inability to save. If that's the case, then we have to figure out why so many millions of people have the same problem.

Materialism--why save money when you can get a new car (who cares if you just got one three years ago?)? It's true that we have far more available now to buy--that's the downside of the technological innovations of the last thirty years. So, people feel they need to own more, and they are competitive--if their friends, their neighbors etc. get something then they have to have it, too. Or something bigger.

A great example is many of the car commercials--they routinely play the envy card. Parents, don't be blame, get a bigger car than your neighbors (talk about surrogate penis envy). Etc.


As to the last part of your comment, indeed consumerism is a sad development in the last century. It has replaced morality and solidarity more than spirituality. That's why I think it's obscene that the rich continue to accumulate wealth. What for? More materialism? Have them redistribute to those in need. Have the rich pay higher taxes and let the government create more jobs to improve infrastructure, instead of canceling big construction projects like Christie did in New Jersey. Can you imagine how many more people are losing their jobs because of him?

Ah, let's not get into that rant. There's no way we'll agree.

Hehe I think you're right about that last part too.

Ocean
11-26-2010, 10:09 PM
Materialism--why save money when you can get a new car (who cares if you just got one three years ago?)? It's true that we have far more available now to buy--that's the downside of the technological innovations of the last thirty years. So, people feel they need to own more, and they are competitive--if their friends, their neighbors etc. get something then they have to have it, too. Or something bigger.

A great example is many of the car commercials--they routinely play the envy card. Parents, don't be blame, get a bigger car than your neighbors (talk about surrogate penis envy). Etc.

Hehe I think you're right about that last part too.

So, if you want to end this with a happy note, I agree with you about the ills of consumerism including competition and envy. I've been voicing the same kind of arguments for many years. My neighbors drive their Mercedes or BMW SUV's, while I proudly and happily drive my Prius. No one needs an SUV in New Jersey suburbs. The roads aren't perfect, but I wouldn't call them rough terrain.

I'm not an economist, and certainly know very little about it. I usually try to observe and use common sense when possible. I also read people that I trust, or go to neutral sources. But here's a paragraph that comes to mind after our conversation today:

There is frequent confusion on the meaning of the term 'supply-side economics', between the related ideas of the existence of the Laffer Curve and the belief that decreasing tax rates can increase tax revenues. But many supply-side economists doubt the latter claim, while still supporting the general policy of tax cuts. Economist Gregory Mankiw used the term "fad economics" to describe the notion of tax rate cuts increasing revenue in the third edition of his Principles of Macroeconomics textbook in a section entitled "Charlatans and Cranks":
An example of fad economics occurred in 1980, when a small group of economists advised Presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan, that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue. They argued that if people could keep a higher fraction of their income, people would work harder to earn more income. Even though tax rates would be lower, income would rise by so much, they claimed, that tax revenues would rise. Almost all professional economists, including most of those who supported Reagan's proposal to cut taxes, viewed this outcome as far too optimistic. Lower tax rates might encourage people to work harder and this extra effort would offset the direct effects of lower tax rates to some extent, but there was no credible evidence that work effort would rise by enough to cause tax revenues to rise in the face of lower tax rates. People on fad diets put their health at risk but rarely achieve the permanent weight loss they desire. Similarly, when politicians rely on the advice of charlatans and cranks, they rarely get the desirable results they anticipate. After Reagan's election, Congress passed the cut in tax rates that Reagan advocated, but the tax cut did not cause tax revenues to rise.[38][39] Reference. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply-side_economics)

There's a time when re-establishing balance is more important than retesting interventions that failed before.

Wonderment
11-27-2010, 01:17 AM
There's a major difference--nobody is "plucked out" of high school today. They volunteer.

You might want to look into military recruitment tactics on high school campuses before concluding that the "volunteer" army is voluntary in any meaningful, adult sense of the word. Child recruitment is not only practiced in the USA, it is required by law, per provisions of the bi-partisan No Child Left Behind Act.

The military is basically a jobs program for non-college-bound adolescents (i.e., poor kids) who are subjected to a very sophisticated, expensive and immensely misleading marketing (propaganda) program before they are developmentally mature enough to make important life decisions. They can enroll in warfare before they are allowed to acquire credit cards, vote, consume cigarettes or alcohol.

You also might want to examine what "volunteer" means when you accept a job as a construction worker, a nurse or a driver and end up being sent against your will, on pain of prison, to die and kill in Iraq.

Finally, I find your excuse that your "skill set" doesn't match military needs to be implausible.

operative
11-27-2010, 08:34 AM
You might want to look into military recruitment tactics on high school campuses before concluding that the "volunteer" army is voluntary in any meaningful, adult sense of the word. Child recruitment is not only practiced in the USA, it is required by law, per provisions of the bi-partisan No Child Left Behind Act.

The military is basically a jobs program for non-college-bound adolescents (i.e., poor kids) who are subjected to a very sophisticated, expensive and immensely misleading marketing (propaganda) program before they are developmentally mature enough to make important life decisions. They can enroll in warfare before they are allowed to acquire credit cards, vote, consume cigarettes or alcohol.

Kids who can drive, have sex, procreate, drop out of high school, etc. Also, a 17 year old can enlist but only with the permission of the parents. Most kids who go to college are 17 when they determine which school to go to. So we actually let them make parallel and just as important decisions. Also you're really insulting military service when you denigrate it as "kill and die."


You also might want to examine what "volunteer" means when you accept a job as a construction worker, a nurse or a driver and end up being sent against your will, on pain of prison, to die and kill in Iraq.

The risks are made clear--you can and may be sent to war.


Finally, I find your excuse that your "skill set" doesn't match military needs to be implausible.

Well that's because you don't know me :p

Internet postings aside, I'm very conflict-averse. I don't even play contact sports. I've never shot a gun in my life. And I have a vestibular disorder that gives me rather horrible balance. I'm a rather good conceptual learner but when it comes to anything hands-on, again, I'm rather bad. So yes, my skill set is essentially opposite of what makes a good soldier.

After I completed my undergrad I actually contemplated joining the Navy before doing an honest self assessment and reaching the conclusion that I would make an awful soldier/sailer.

operative
11-27-2010, 08:35 AM
So, if you want to end this with a happy note, I agree with you about the ills of consumerism including competition and envy. I've been voicing the same kind of arguments for many years. My neighbors drive their Mercedes or BMW SUV's, while I proudly and happily drive my Prius. No one needs an SUV in New Jersey suburbs. The roads aren't perfect, but I wouldn't call them rough terrain.

Indeed, always nice to end on a note of harmony.

Ocean
11-27-2010, 10:00 PM
Another article with common sense. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/opinion/28sun1.html?hp)

Wonderment
11-27-2010, 10:47 PM
The risks are made clear--you can and may be sent to war.

The risks are NOT made clear, something you'd know if you investigated recruitment practices more, or if you talked to more veterans. Military recruiters generally have as much credibility as used-car salespersons. Here's a good place to start learning (http://www.beforeyouenlist.org/).

Or check out "Military recruiters misled my son, and now he's dead."
(http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/opin/pr_neid.html)

This article has a "Top 10 Lies Recruiters Tell" (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/recruiterlies.htm) list.

operative
11-27-2010, 11:05 PM
The risks are NOT made clear, something you'd know if you investigated recruitment practices more, or if you talked to more veterans. Military recruiters generally have as much credibility as used-car salespersons. Here's a good place to start learning (http://www.beforeyouenlist.org/).

Or check out "Military recruiters misled my son, and now he's dead."
(http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/opin/pr_neid.html)

This article has a "Top 10 Lies Recruiters Tell" (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/recruiterlies.htm) list.

The things that are listed are illegal for them to say and recruiters who engage in such behavior are punished. That doesn't mean that there aren't recruiters who will be dishonest, but dishonest recruiting is hardly unique to the military--universities do the same thing, both to star athletes and regular students.

graz
11-27-2010, 11:09 PM
The things that are listed are illegal for them to say and recruiters who engage in such behavior are punished.

Cite?

operative
11-27-2010, 11:58 PM
Cite?

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/07/ap_recruitinglies_070724/

Wonderment
11-28-2010, 12:15 AM
The things that are listed are illegal for them to say and recruiters who engage in such behavior are punished.

Too little, too late. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/11/AR2005061100174.html)

WAPO article in 2005 by Don Edwards, retired from the U.S. Army as a major general in 1997 after more than 37 years of service, including two tours in Vietnam :

With recruiting goals seemingly out of reach for the present, recruiters, who are selected from among the best junior leaders in the noncommissioned officer corps, are experiencing high levels of stress. More and more, they appear to be bending the rules to meet their goals. The Army has become so concerned about recruiting ethics that it suspended all recruiting on May 20 to conduct a full day of ethics training.

But if you want to pretend that 14-17 year olds (the cohort for recruitment propaganda in accord with provisions of the No Child Left Unrecruited Act) have been making fully informed decisions after being targeted by professional sales people in full dress uniform with shiny metals and snazzy sidearms who come to high school campuses with loads of free gifts like t-shirts, running shoes, video games, bells, whistles and fables about how uniforms have aphrodisiac qualities and how recruits will get government (health, education, housing and pension) welfare for life,.... fine.

But I don't believe for a nanosecond that you'd want your kid exposed to that BS, nor would you want her fighting in Falluja and wherever the next Falluja lies.

operative
11-28-2010, 08:47 AM
Too little, too late. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/11/AR2005061100174.html)

WAPO article in 2005 by Don Edwards, retired from the U.S. Army as a major general in 1997 after more than 37 years of service, including two tours in Vietnam :


That's like using police corruption as an argument against having the police or encouraging kids to become police officers. Are there unethical recruiters out there? Sure. Same as there are corrupt cops. You expose them and punish them.


But if you want to pretend that 14-17 year olds (the cohort for recruitment propaganda in accord with provisions of the No Child Left Unrecruited Act) have been making fully informed decisions after being targeted by professional sales people in full dress uniform with shiny metals and snazzy sidearms who come to high school campuses with loads of free gifts like t-shirts, running shoes, video games, bells, whistles and fables about how uniforms have aphrodisiac qualities and how recruits will get government (health, education, housing and pension) welfare for life,.... fine.

Recruiters are professional soldier. Many have battle experience. And many, most in fact, do not misrepresent military life. Of course they have material designed to interest people. And of course their goal is to attract people. We let college coaches do this to star athletes in high school. You apparently don't find military service to be honorable; I disagree.


But I don't believe for a nanosecond that you'd want your kid exposed to that BS, nor would you want her fighting in Falluja and wherever the next Falluja lies.

I'm of two minds on the subject. I'd actually love it if my progeny would attend West Point, but I also would like for them to begin university a bit earlier than the standard American age (16 at the oldest).

Wonderment
11-28-2010, 07:28 PM
That's like using police corruption as an argument against having the police or encouraging kids to become police officers.

Disagree. Police cadets can quit any time they want, and none are put in combat situations (or life-threatening situations) at age 18.

Recruiters are professional soldier. Many have battle experience. And many, most in fact, do not misrepresent military life. Of course they have material designed to interest people.

Designed to interest children.

operative
11-28-2010, 07:35 PM
Disagree. Police cadets can quit any time they want, and none are put in combat situations (or life-threatening situations) at age 18.

Point taken on being able to quit, but 18 year olds can become firefighters, which by definition involves letting themselves be put into life threatening situations.



Designed to interest children.

Younger males. Video games are common for males even into their early 20s.

popcorn_karate
11-29-2010, 12:49 PM
PS: Jon, if you want to get on a morality high chair ...

actually a morality highchair for Jon and operative would be useful - but they should be in it, not on it.

; )