Brugle on August 10, 2010, 08:21:24 am
That competition was kind of like a potlach. One side invades a third world nation and pays ruinous expenses to blow the place up while the other side supports the resistance. Then they switch roles.

And when the USSR had to drop out because they just couldn't afford it any more, we kept playing! Now we've pretty much bankrupted ourselves with no competitor to egg us on. A strange game indeed.

Very nicely put.  I may use that analogy sometime.

Rocketman on August 10, 2010, 09:56:44 am
Yes Brugle nicely put.  I would add that the reason that we continue to do it is because some very major USA companies would go out of business if we didn't continue to find enemies everywhere, especially enemies that are no serious threat to us, and to keep the lumpin citizens in constant fear otherwise they might start getting the notion that we don't need all the firepower that we have.  An empire is costly to maintain after all.   >:(

terry_freeman on August 11, 2010, 03:52:17 am
Back in 2001 I predicted how this middle east scenario would play out, and I have found no reason to change any of the major details.

Some of our readers may have come across a story about a tiny creature with no technological capabilities and a weapon equivalent to an injection of a tiny irritant, which destroyed a gigantic vehicle and four humoungous opponents, all of whom were heavily armed and trained in martial arts.

That creature was a wasp. It is more accurate to say that the human driver, in his efforts to avoid being bitten by the wasp and suffering a tiny irritation, lost sight of the road and destroyed himself and his passengers in the ensuing crash.

There may be, as Adam Smith once said, "a great deal of ruin in a nation", but when the American empire spends madly on a war against a tactic, which can never end, it is thereby hurrying down the road to ruin at a breakneck pace. In the same way that no enemy actually destroyed the USSR militarily, but the empire cracked up due to financial and economic stresses, the present USSA is creating stresses which cannot be sustained.

Statist apologists are trained to repeat mantras about percentage of GDP, for one simple reason: it obscures the total amount spent on corporate welfare.
Look at the dollar figures here http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm

The USSA spends at least $623 billion on "defense", as of 2004. The entire rest of the world combined - which includes many allies - spent $500 billion. Dollar for dollar, the USSA could take on all the rest of the world, including Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Germany, and France, and still outspend them.

This is not "defense" by any meaning recognized by people with a working BS detector. It is corporate welfare. You can wake up and stop being a shill for the state-corporate-welfare-machine anytime.

The cost of asymmetric warfare is going to get worse, not better. Consider the development of missiles which are capable of destroying super carriers. Cost of missile: millions. Cost of carrier: billions. If that doesn't spin your head around, what would?

If you are a so-called "military expert", you must have read the Art of War. Who wrote that book? Who is most familiar with the theory and practice? Over the long term, successful warmaking depends upon a robust economy. Our so-called "experts" have wed themselves to the failed theory of socialist planned economies, even as those who have real experience with the "economic calculation problem" are backing away from socialism and returning to their capitalist roots.

The downfall of the USSA is going to be a classic case of hubris - a failure to imagine that the self-absorbed Planners and Leaders - and their deluded Followers - might actually be totally wrong on a colossal scale.

If you think yourself to be an "expert" on military history, dig up an essay about the Spanish-American War. (I'll google it up sometime, I hope) - the gist is that America, in "winning" that war, transformed itself from a Republic to an Empire, which was essentially a victory for what we would now call the Empire meme, and a loss for America as it was conceived by the Founders, and imagined by many of those to this day who love America.

Under the mistaken theory that we "had" to transform ourselves into fascists to defeat the Nazis, the US government took control of much of industry. Under the mistaken theory that we "had" to nationalize the economy to compete with "Japan, Inc", idiots like New Gingrich promoted more government involvement in the economy. Under the mistaken theory that we "must" turn ourselves into a police state to win the "war on drugs" and "war on terror", the government has greatly increased the number of so-called "intelligence" agencies and police forces, ramped up the corporate-welfare "defense" budget, and shredded what is left of the Bill of Rights.

If this counts as "victory", we lost everything that matters. The Soviets won. We are become them. It is madness to take on not one, but several unwinnable wars. The War on Drugs is not winnable, and never was; it is an attempt to repeal the laws of economics. The War on Poverty is self-defeating; poverty is so defined that the war can never be won - the bottom fifth will always be with us by definition. The war on a tactic is likewise unwinnable by definition. As long as our military is breaking things and killing people, it will encourage a few terrorists to respond.

We have discovered a self-perpetuating machine at last: the Imperial Military and all their vast legions of self-deceiving dupes. For whatever reason, the dupes want to be fooled.   





jamesd on August 11, 2010, 06:13:29 am
The USSA spends at least $623 billion on "defense", as of 2004. The entire rest of the world combined - which includes many allies - spent $500 billion. Dollar for dollar, the USSA could take on all the rest of the world, including Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Germany, and France, and still outspend them.
This really is not a significant problem.  Spending money on blowing stuff up far away does not harm me.  Internal spending is much larger, and does harm me, for example money spent on "education" is for the most part money spent on statist propaganda, money spent on "welfare" pays women to breed muggers, money spent on "health" imports Mexicans to vote for all of this stuff.

It is in the nature of government to grow - to tax ever more, to regulate ever more.  Every dollar spent on defense against real and imaginary enemies is a dollar not spent harming Americans.  If the government spent ten times more on defense - perhaps on blowing up imaginary martians - we would be far freer.

Money spent on "defense" is the most innocent of government expenditures, and the most plausibly legitimate.  It is after all the only substantial form of expenditure that the US constitution authorizes.  It is the nature of government to grow, but we would be far better off if the government only grew by expanding its legal activities.

Bomb the Muslims.  Or bomb the martians.  But for God's sake stop "saving" Detroit.  Let alone saving California.

terry_freeman on August 11, 2010, 09:30:47 am
First off, blowing up Moslims is objectively evil, unless done strictly in self-defense. Nobody should be doing this in my name or yours. Second, the $600+ billion spent on "killing people and blowing stuff up" is taken from us, whether directly by taxes or indirectly by borrowing and inflation; it diminishes our ability to do other things.

Lastly, I have never been one of those "if only we were not spending money to kill people and blow things up, we could instead have this fabulous government program to do X" statists; the alternative to spending on government program Y is not government program X, but private programs A, B, C ... all the things which we would do voluntarily if we and our property were left alone by the government.

terry_freeman on August 11, 2010, 09:32:29 am
http://praxeology.net/WGS-CUS.htm

To defeat the enemy, we became the enemy; the enemy won.

terry_freeman on August 11, 2010, 09:47:29 am
Randolph Bourne said "war is the health of the State", and it is all too true. Not only are we being forced to pay to send men and bombs overseas, but we are also forced to pay for the Surveillance State. Washington Post recently did a series of articles; there are tens of thousands of "intelligence" agencies generating 50,000 "intelligence" articles every year to justify their existence. There are about 800,000 Americans with a Top Secret rating. If there are any secrets worth protecting, giving 800,000 people access to such secrets seems a poor way to do it. When I lived in Los Angeles, I frequently saw police forces, under the guise of "homeland security", performing warrantless searches of bags at transit stations. Everyone who has flown a commercial plane in the last ten years knows about the security theater endured by passengers. All of us know that resistance is futile - anyone who complains about the absurdity risks being frisked, delayed, missing a flight, or even being arrested.
Our emails are sniffed by NSA for references to possible terrorist acts, including bombs, explosives, drugs, money transfers, plots, cryptography, and other nefarious acts. We have no financial privacy - google up the bank "know your customer" regulations. People who carry large amounts of cash run the risk of being robbed not by freelance muggers but by police and TSA agents, who will demand proof that the money is not part of a drug transaction or terrorist plot.

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/hist_texts/warhealthstate1918.html

Rocketman on August 11, 2010, 10:35:17 am
There was a famous pogo comic strip back in the early 1970's (I think).  "We have met the enemy and he is us." that sums it all up.  What good is it to fight the "war on terror" if in order to win it we have to become what we are supposed to be fighting against?  We are now in the final stage of "empire" which started on 9/11/01 and the outcome will not be pleasent to anyone when this country suffers hyperinflation and collapses.  I just hope that whatever new countries that comes out of this mess learns their lessons for a while at least and realizes that empires are always unstable and show some hubris for their future actions.  :'(  :'(  :'(  :'(  :'(

MacFall on August 11, 2010, 10:53:19 am
It actually started after WWI. 9/11 was the onset of the fatal bout of convulsions.
Government is not, as is often believed, a "necessary evil". Rather, it is a plain evil of such power that it has been able to convince people of its necessity.

J Thomas on August 11, 2010, 11:06:54 am
Statist apologists are trained to repeat mantras about percentage of GDP, for one simple reason: it obscures the total amount spent on corporate welfare.
Look at the dollar figures here http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm

It might be possible to run a government so that on average it does more good than harm. Various people say that's impossible but I'm not convinced it's impossible.

It's definitely possible to run a government as a sort of parasite that does so little harm that the economy and the society can afford it. There are a hundred real examples today.

But what the US government is doing cannot be maintained. It will have to change.

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The USSA spends at least $623 billion on "defense", as of 2004. The entire rest of the world combined - which includes many allies - spent $500 billion. Dollar for dollar, the USSA could take on all the rest of the world, including Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Germany, and France, and still outspend them.

Well, but it's a lot more expensive to wage war on the other guy's land, especially when he's halfway around the world. And yet it's also very expensive to run a home game. When somebody invades you, it costs -- but a lot of the cost doesn't show up in the military budget. So we spend trillions of dollars to fight them over there and not have to fight them over here. If we cut our military budget so far that somebody invaded us we'd be sorry. Of course, what kind of military spending would it take for somebody to invade us even if our military spending was cut way down? I guess it's more an emotional issue than anything else.

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The cost of asymmetric warfare is going to get worse, not better. Consider the development of missiles which are capable of destroying super carriers. Cost of missile: millions. Cost of carrier: billions. If that doesn't spin your head around, what would?

In WWII carriers and submarines were what mattered. If you could destroy the other guy's carriers then his other surface ships were pretty much defenseless. We've carried that approach about as far as it will go, so now we have a giant investment in carriers. We will keep using them until they start getting sunk, because we have them and they're the obvious place for an admiral to park etc. Chances are we aren't going to make any more of them after the Gerald R Ford. Or maybe one or two more.

But it will be very expensive to build the sort of navy that can be useful without carriers. I don't know how it will work, but my guess is that some of them should be cheap with minimal crews and as much automation as possible, and capable of launching all their armaments quickly. One ship can do tremendous damage to a whole fleet and then it's expendable. Ideally it should also be very fast and good at hiding. If a cheap missile can kill it, then make it cheap too and put a lot of cheap missiles on it.

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If you are a so-called "military expert", you must have read the Art of War. Who wrote that book? Who is most familiar with the theory and practice? Over the long term, successful warmaking depends upon a robust economy. Our so-called "experts" have wed themselves to the failed theory of socialist planned economies, even as those who have real experience with the "economic calculation problem" are backing away from socialism and returning to their capitalist roots.

You can't expect the military to decide how much military spending is good for the economy. So they provide a laundry list of everything they'd like to have, and the civilians decide how much of it to give them and how much extra they think the military should get to provide jobs in their districts. This isn't even a problem with bureaucracy, it's a problem with parliaments. Sometimes a whole bunch of individual legislators can get together and produce a solution that's better than any one of them alone would do. But it isn't the way to bet.

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The downfall of the USSA is going to be a classic case of hubris - a failure to imagine that the self-absorbed Planners and Leaders - and their deluded Followers - might actually be totally wrong on a colossal scale.

Nobody is responsible for looking at the big picture -- except maybe the President. And he does have a veto. But we don't select our Presidents for the ability to look at the big picture, that isn't what gets them nominated or elected. And we don't give them much time to think, either. I wouldn't have begrudged Bush all his vacation days if I'd thought he was actually using them to get a grip on the things he didn't have time to think about following the usual schedule. But I see no evidence he thought things out much at all. Oh well, if things had gone a little different we could have had President Quayle to look at the big picture.

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If you think yourself to be an "expert" on military history, dig up an essay about the Spanish-American War. (I'll google it up sometime, I hope) - the gist is that America, in "winning" that war, transformed itself from a Republic to an Empire, which was essentially a victory for what we would now call the Empire meme, and a loss for America as it was conceived by the Founders, and imagined by many of those to this day who love America.

Yes. So we had the Marines basicly enforcing monopolist control of latin america. The local monopolists got control and riches, enforced by the USA, provided they sold to us cheap. After WWII we were rich, and I don't know how much of that came from new technology, or from our controlled prices on international markets, or from belated investment in the US south. I like to think the new technology was central, because I read the claim and I want to believe it.

We got used to being rich. Now we aren't so rich and we don't know how to deal with it.

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Under the mistaken theory that we "had" to transform ourselves into fascists to defeat the Nazis, the US government took control of much of industry. Under the mistaken theory that we "had" to nationalize the economy to compete with "Japan, Inc", idiots like New Gingrich promoted more government involvement in the economy. Under the mistaken theory that we "must" turn ourselves into a police state to win the "war on drugs" and "war on terror", the government has greatly increased the number of so-called "intelligence" agencies and police forces, ramped up the corporate-welfare "defense" budget, and shredded what is left of the Bill of Rights.

Yes. I want to argue that it's possible to have a good government. But what we actually have is a shining argument in favor of AnCap.

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If this counts as "victory", we lost everything that matters. The Soviets won. We are become them.

I doubt they'd agree they won. Don't you hate it when you have to play a game where everybody loses?

J Thomas on August 11, 2010, 11:10:36 am
I have never been one of those "if only we were not spending money to kill people and blow things up, we could instead have this fabulous government program to do X" statists; the alternative to spending on government program Y is not government program X, but private programs A, B, C ... all the things which we would do voluntarily if we and our property were left alone by the government.

Government program X is a more plausible alternative than reduced goverment spending. And I'd like to believe that many government programs are less harmful than killing people and blowing stuff up.

But certainly reducing the rate that the deficit grows would be a great alternative.

terry_freeman on August 11, 2010, 12:32:44 pm
Great Britain is now reducing government spending. They have axed government programs. A few decades ago, New Zealand did likewise. The Soviets and the Chinese and Indians have already rediscovered the virtues of leaving entrepreneurs alone to do what they do best, which is to grow the economy.

Why can't the American government be as smart?

jamesd on August 11, 2010, 06:42:07 pm
First off, blowing up Moslims is objectively evil, unless done strictly in self-defense.
Muslims think they are at war with us - or rather a few of them think they are at war with us and the rest are too frightened to speak up and contradict them.  Which means they are at war with us, so blowing them up is self defense.

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Second, the $600+ billion spent on "killing people and blowing stuff up" is taken from us, whether directly by taxes or indirectly by borrowing and inflation;
Taxes always hover around the Laffer limit.   More government spending on war means less government spending on other stuff.  The less the government spends harming foreigners, the more it spends harming Americans, and the more the government spends harming foreigners, the less it spends harming Americans.

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Lastly, I have never been one of those "if only we were not spending money to kill people and blow things up, we could instead have this fabulous government program to do X" statists; the alternative to spending on government program Y is not government program X, but private programs A, B, C ... all the things which we would do voluntarily if we and our property were left alone by the government.
It is the nature of government to grow until stopped.  To roll back government, cannot win elections.  Election and proposition outcomes have no effect, as recently demonstrated in California with proposition 8 (gay marriage) and proposition 209 (affirmative action), and in the US as a whole by the Bush/Obama regime - Obama merely continuing what began under Bush.  Every disastrous Obama program is a continuation of a Bush program. To roll back government, must delegitimize government, which means that one must condemn not the controversial expenditures (war) but the supposedly uncontroversial expenditures ("education", "health", and "welfare").

jamesd on August 11, 2010, 07:17:17 pm
Randolph Bourne said "war is the health of the State", and it is all too true. Not only are we being forced to pay to send men and bombs overseas, but we are also forced to pay for the Surveillance State. Washington Post recently did a series of articles; there are tens of thousands of "intelligence" agencies generating 50,000 "intelligence" articles every year to justify their existence. There are about 800,000 Americans with a Top Secret rating. If there are any secrets worth protecting, giving 800,000 people access to such secrets seems a poor way to do it. When I lived in Los Angeles, I frequently saw police forces, under the guise of "homeland security", performing warrantless searches of bags at transit stations. Everyone who has flown a commercial plane in the last ten years knows about the security theater endured by passengers.

Yet strangely, Europeans, who have given up on war, are less free than Americans.

By and large, most foreign wars are proxy wars between the State Department and the Pentagon - and of the two of them, the State Department is by far the greater enemy of freedom.  So whenever I hear the Pentagon side criticized, I speak up in its defense, suspecting that I hear endorsement of the State Department side.

Brugle on August 11, 2010, 07:19:57 pm
First off, blowing up Moslims is objectively evil, unless done strictly in self-defense.
Muslims think they are at war with us - or rather a few of them think they are at war with us and the rest are too frightened to speak up and contradict them.  Which means they are at war with us, so blowing them up is self defense.
Absolute nonsense.  Most Muslims are opposed to Americans only because the US government's military continues to kill, main, torture, steal from, and destroy the lives of their families, friends, and neighbors.  They may be at war with you (if you support the US government's military), but they are not at war with me.

Taxes always hover around the Laffer limit.
I doubt that the Laffer curve can be calculated that accurately, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.  Do you have a cite?

More government spending on war means less government spending on other stuff.  The less the government spends harming foreigners, the more it spends harming Americans, and the more the government spends harming foreigners, the less it spends harming Americans.
True in a trivial sense, but so what?  Different evils are not equivalent.  Mass murder (anywhere) is obviously worse than paying farmers to not farm.  Some government spending is not even harmful by itself, although the loss to society from the extraction of wealth (taxation, inflation, seizure) obviously is.

To roll back government, must delegitimize government, which means that one must condemn not the controversial expenditures (war) but the supposedly uncontroversial expenditures ("education", "health", and "welfare").
Of course, but when you spout inanities like those above it only helps the statists.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 07:27:36 pm by Brugle »