Monthly Archives: October 2010

Federal Goverment Is Abusing Our Children

In “U.S. Debt Is Child Abuse”, Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Richard Munroe offer as clear and compelling case as can be presented for ending the irrational and unsustainable growth in government and showing the unquestionable theft from our children and grandchildren inherent in the governments prolifigate spending on the selfishness and irresponsibility of current adult generations.

Most refreshing is their prescription for solutions, which challenges the sacredly protected turf of both liberals and conservatives alike as they argue for the kind of common sense solutions that will realistically put the government back on a sustainable funding path without impoverishing our children:

This massive Ponzi scheme is turning the American Dream into the American Nightmare. Stopping it means dramatically limiting the growth of federal spending. Here’s how:

— Scrap our health-care system and provide all citizens with a voucher based on pre-existing conditions to buy a basic health plan, and limit coverages so that the total cost of the vouchers is fixed each year at 10 percent of GDP — what Germany now spends on care.

— Freeze Social Security in place, pay off its accrued benefits and replace the system with mandatory saving in personal accounts whose assets are jointly invested, by computer, not Wall Street, at minimal cost, in a fully diversified global index fund. The government would match contributions of the poor to make the system progressive and annuitize account balances at retirement. This Personal Security System would take much of Social Security’s unfunded liability off our kids’ backs.

— Finally, stop spending more than the next 15 countries combined on defense. Declare victory in our unwinnable wars and bring the troops home.

And what about revenue? Scrap the current tax system and tax the elderly as well as the young through a levy on consumption. Also, provide a fixed monthly payment to each household to make the consumption tax progressive.

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Filed under Economic Policy

Lovins On The Financial Folly Of Nuclear Power

In “Nuclear Socialism”, once again Rocky Mountain Institute founder Amory Lovins outlines the continuing and increasing financial folly of the nuclear power industry.  This prolific clean energy pioneer, whose realm of work is generally considered the favored domain of the political left, is once again reaching across traditional political divides to make the free market economic case against the continuing irrational subsidies for nuclear power, this time in The Weekly Standard.

The financial case against nuclear power is so strong that Lovins doesn’t need to discuss the arguments of safety, waste disposal, environmental hazards, national security, terrorism and other negative implications that are all inextricably tied to the nuclear power industry. He didn’t even address the Price Anderson Act, the unique federal legislation that relieves those in the nuclear power industry of the need to cover their own liability through insurance the way every other business in America does. His article also skips the obvious and undeniable ties between excuses justifying “civilian nuclear power” and the ever increasing risks of nuclear weapons proliferation in places like Pakistan, North Korea and Iran.

Lovins is one of the most informed and interesting thinkers in the world on innovative and cost effective energy technology and energy policy. He has been central in helping to transform the thinking and energy related policies, practices and investments of major organizations like Ford, Wal-Mart and the Pentagon. He is the author of “Winning the Oil End Game”, “Natural Capitalism”, “Soft Energy Paths” and “Small is Profitable”, which have helped reshape thinking about business, economics and efficiency in the manufacturing, transportation and energy sectors, as well as in government.

For decades Lovins has highlighted both the financial folly and huge completely unnecessary risks to society inherent in the nuclear power industry.  He has repeatedly made the clear business case that continuing subsidies for nuclear power and risks are completely unnecessary, unwarranted and unjustifiable.

And for decades, nuclear power has been a poster child for corrupt corporate welfare. Yet it continues to garner strong bipartisan support in congress. If there was ever a solid argument for campaign finance reform, a prime candidate is the continuing and increasing subsidies for the nuclear industry, which would never exist without decades of massive socialist handouts.

Its great to see the Weekly Standard publishing articles like this. Hopefully other politically conservative organizations will start aligning their rhetoric with the realities of nuclear power. And hopefully the liberals and blindly naive “environmentalists” who think nuclear materials proliferation is an acceptable solution climate concerns will also start waking up to reality.

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Filed under Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Environmentalism, Politics

Bring Our Troops Home

In “Tea in Kabul”, Nicholas Kristof brings back stories from Afghanistan about the net result of the American presence in that country. Our occupation is alienating and angering the Afghan population, inadvertently funding the Taliban enemy and escalating the successful recruitment of more Taliban fighters.

Brian Mockenhaupt’s “The Last Patrol” tells a heartbreaking story of deadly patrols with a platoon from the 82nd airborne division in the orchards and farms of the Arghandab Valley. The fights with the Taliban are brutally fierce. The casualties are high. The aims are unjustifiable. The impact on the lives of those fighting is indelible. It’s an agonizing story of tough soldiers and good young kids getting blown up and killed for no good reason at all.

We have a family friend that recently deployed to Afghanistan. He’s a private in an army infantry brigade, doing what our country is telling him is his duty. Reading Mockenhaupt’s article about how completely senseless the battles over farm fields in Afghanistan really are, while having a young friend’s life and whole future at risk because our politicians are unwilling to be realistic or responsible in their own actions, is just infuriating.

In a recent note, my father recounted the logic of the continuing American presence in Afghanistan, as well as the clarity that the vast majority of Americans are realizing regarding the mission creep of the war that has emerged to cloud the failure of the primary mission President Bush set out to achieve after September 11, 2001:

I had thought that we had boxed ourselves into a moral obligation to remain in Afghanistan because we had partially liberated many women there and thought it wrong to desert them until their new freedom was more secure. This is probably naive and beyond that, we also have a moral obligation to protect our troops.  We went there to find and kill Osama bin Laden. That’s not going to happen. It is time to leave.

Clearly our guns and bombs are never going to turn that ancient tribal society into a prosperous 21st century democracy with equal womens rights and other progressive cosmopolitan values. And yes, it is incredibly sad to have to admit the complete failure of that war after ten years, over 350 billion dollars wasted, over 2,100 American and allied troops killed, countless troops wounded and all the thousands of Afghan civilians who have been killed, maimed, lost their homes and loved ones and had their lives upended.

News accounts regularly report the blatant corruption of the Karzai government, its complete ineffectiveness and its glaring lack of popular support.  Along with traditional Afghan injustices against women and other blatant affronts to western sensibilities, stories of the decades long suffering of the Afghan people from wars and intense poverty are frustrating for idealists of all political persuasions and hard to just abandon.

But the lessons of the proud ancient Afghan people fiercely defending their homeland from foreign invaders over millennium has rightfully earned that land the title as the “Graveyard of Empires”. They fended off Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the nineteenth century British and Russian empires and more recently a long unsuccessful Afghan invasion accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It is pure fantasy to imagine that our American invasion will somehow be “successful” in a muddled nation building endeavor in which the goals of the effort and the very notion of success are completely undefined.

The Afghan war is just senseless. Like our misadventure in Vietnam, this war has turned into a hopeless and pointless exercise that continues only as an abstraction for domestic politicians to act tough about for their own elections.

However. the sacrifices of our soldiers risking their lives, losing their limbs and dying over this senseless political fantasy are no abstraction.

This war is completely wrong and so is every politician who continues to support it. Any politician who supports the Afghanistan war continuing should be thrown out. It’s just that simple.

We need grownups in charge. This war has to end.

10-18 update: The commander of our young friend’s recently deployed squadron just announced the loss of three soldiers today to the squadron Facebook page. The messages responding are painful to read, knowing that most of those writing have loved ones in the battles too. It’s so sad to have such brave, patriotic soldiers and their families suffering so much for such a senseless war. It just has to end.


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Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

Common Sense Political Positioning

Over at Reason.com, in advising President Obama : “Don’t Bash the Chamber of Commerce”, Terry Michael, a self proclaimed “Libertarian Democrat” suggests:

The government should assure liberty by staying as far away as possible from our bank accounts, our bedrooms, and our bodies. Spread pluralistic democracy and free markets by example, understanding that neither can be planted by force on political real estate lacking indigenous cultivators for their growth. Restore the moral authority of mid-20th century civil rights, fashioning public policy around individuals, not tribal identity groups.

If only there were a few such rational and sensible people in Congress.

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Filed under Politics, Uncategorized