Re: Oregon Healthcare Lottery

Postby Monocheres » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:11 pm

draque wrote:You're right about WWII, which cost something in the realm of $3 trillion (adjusted), but the projected costs of the war on terror is disturbingly close. Here's an article regarding it: http://money.cnn.com/2007/10/24/news/economy/cbo_testimony/index.htm


That's an interesting article, but let me point out that there's a passage in it that makes my point:

CNN.com wrote:But in relation to the nation's overall economy, it's been noted that the war is relatively cheap.

The entire Defense Department budget, including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, is about 4.5 percent of the nation's economy. During the Vietnam War it was about 7 percent, and during WW II it was 25 percent.


How can we account for this? How can $3 trillion be 25% of the economy during WWII but only 5% today? Perhaps it's because the current generation is richer and better off than the Greatest Generation was. The argument can certainly be made. We do have access to a lot more technology than our grandparents did, and that has driven our affluence. So perhaps we can actually afford to defend ourselves, and our interests, at this level.

draque wrote:
Monocheres wrote:But suppose we did decide to stop doing the policing. Does anybody think that someone else won't step in to fill the vacuum? There are any number of eager candidates out there for top cop, most quite unsavory from our point of view. Would we really like the way the world would look if they were in charge?


That's assuming it's a vacuum that can successfully be filled. I believe that it's only through unsustainable funding that we are able to hold the power to police that we do now. We're able to keep this up for the moment... but I don't believe that it's something that can be supported (in terms of ability to act, as opposed to ethics) for any extended period of time. If we were to back down from the position, I do not think any other country would have the power to claim it.


The question is not whether some other country could succeed in filling a power vacuum, but whether a power vacuum would tempt them to try. Or worse, tempt more than one to compete in trying. I'd rather see a Pax Americana.

draque wrote:
Monocheres wrote:And if we decimated the DoD, does anybody think that the proceeds would not get poured down a rathole anyway? But maybe that's the answer: Let's spend everything on Social Security and Medicare, by all means. Then, when the mullahs come in and establish shariya law, they'll solve all our budget problems by taking an axe to them. Literally.


Are you arguing that we shouldn't try to change things because they would inevitably be just as bad as they are now? You chided me for poorly thought hyperbole earlier and now I'm doing the same for the alarmist tone you're using there. The idea that the war in Iraq is defending us against some sort of imminent Muslim regime takeover is patently absurd. It seems as though the implication that it's just around the corner if war support dwindles has been around since 9/11. If nothing else, I don't really think you can really accuse me of over-supporting SS.


Okay, I'll roll my hyperbolic right-angled 12-sided die for hyperbole damage. :-) To be fair, I was careful to direct my response not at you in particular, Draque, but at the whole audience. And I'll concede that there could be some reform to how we spend money on defense (not necessarily spending less, but being a little smarter about what we spend it on). The point I was really trying to make was simply that folks on the Left, like this ice-cream millionaire, are all too ready to use dishonest techniques to manipulate public opinion, painting the DoD as the bad guy so that they can justify gutting its budget for the sake of their pet projects, rather than tackling the real crisis of unsustainability that threatens our economy -- the entitlement juggernaut.
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Re: Oregon Healthcare Lottery

Postby draque » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:00 pm

\
Monocheres wrote:How can we account for this? How can $3 trillion be 25% of the economy during WWII but only 5% today? Perhaps it's because the current generation is richer and better off than the Greatest Generation was. The argument can certainly be made. We do have access to a lot more technology than our grandparents did, and that has driven our affluence. So perhaps we can actually afford to defend ourselves, and our interests, at this level.


Per capita is certainly less expensive, I was mostly trying to drive home the raw amount of resources blown on this. Even if we have more people and more wealth, a fixed amount of resources will fund the same level of scientific research. Even if it's all weapons research strictly for the military, it's still more valuable than pissing contests with the world... weapons tech is an investment that can be deployed, sold or held as standing power.

The question is not whether some other country could succeed in filling a power vacuum, but whether a power vacuum would tempt them to try. Or worse, tempt more than one to compete in trying. I'd rather see a Pax Americana.


This and the rest of your post made me realize there's something you and I look at differently. I don't think that any of the major world powers are interested in fighting with each other using bullets and bombs any longer. That's highly unprofitable for everyone involved. It seems like only the smaller countries and powers are willing to consider physical force as a means to secure and hold (most) power these days. The wars between behemoth powers I find myself worrying about are economic ones.

The US being crushed economically would be as devastating to our comfortable lives as an invasion, and it would leave the US in a much more economically exploitable state to whoever had dealt the blow. China is poisoning itself biologically and setting its economy up for a fall in my opinion... I feel like Russia, and India are the potential rising economic threats. The EU is doing very well now, but they're so intimately tied to the US that the most their influence will do is devalue our dollar (which... obviously I'm not thrilled about, but it's not going to kill us). I've heard some people talk about how a devalued dollar actually helps us by ensuring we make maximum profit from exports... but it's pretty clear at this point that the US eats more than it shits, so I don't think that really holds water on the whole.
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Re: Oregon Healthcare Lottery

Postby strange_person » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:42 am

draque wrote:
If we cut the DoD tenfold or a hundredfold...


If we dropped max jail sentences for all crimes to 1 year, we would have problems with criminals, but that doesn't stop me from thinking the justice system needs reform.

Actually, that might reduce a lot of problems with criminals. Less jail time means less time to form connections with other criminals, and a faster return to civilized society.

It might also have some interesting consequences on how sentences are determined. If you stab somebody 26 times and they die, that might end up getting treated as 1 count of murder and 25 counts of aggravated assault/attempted murder, each of which carries a year sentence. That, in turn, would serve to target the actual jail time more heavily on the impulse-control cases (those most in need of rehabilitation, or at least restraint), letting the stone-cold pros out faster.

Judges would likely deal with that by inflicting gratuitous punitive damages on premeditators, which would be a more effective deterrent anyway; it's hard to be deterred by a prison sentence when you don't really know how bad prison is until you get there, but it's all too easy to imagine what life would be like under a crushing debt.

Also, in the all-too-likely even that someone is convicted wrongfully, it's a lot easier for the state to compensate them for lost money than lost time.
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Re: Oregon Healthcare Lottery

Postby draque » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:57 pm

strange_person wrote:Actually, that might reduce a lot of problems with criminals. Less jail time means less time to form connections with other criminals, and a faster return to civilized society.

It might also have some interesting consequences on how sentences are determined. If you stab somebody 26 times and they die, that might end up getting treated as 1 count of murder and 25 counts of aggravated assault/attempted murder, each of which carries a year sentence. That, in turn, would serve to target the actual jail time more heavily on the impulse-control cases (those most in need of rehabilitation, or at least restraint), letting the stone-cold pros out faster.

Judges would likely deal with that by inflicting gratuitous punitive damages on premeditators, which would be a more effective deterrent anyway; it's hard to be deterred by a prison sentence when you don't really know how bad prison is until you get there, but it's all too easy to imagine what life would be like under a crushing debt.

Also, in the all-too-likely even that someone is convicted wrongfully, it's a lot easier for the state to compensate them for lost money than lost time.


Agreed on all points. I was just making the case that a revision of a system shouldn't be equated with its scrapping.
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