jamesd on September 30, 2010, 06:43:45 am
Jamesd, perhaps you never heard of the Battle Hymn of the Republic? That was a "Christian" hymn to promote a most savage battle. It is still taught in Christian churches.
"As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,"

It was written by a the wife of a political activist, not a cleric, to be sung by soldiers, not in churches.  Not equivalent to Mohammed, a theocrat urging his followers to die to make men submit to theocracy, neither in its intent, nor its source.




bjdotson on September 30, 2010, 08:53:13 am
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I don't speak for him, but this was a result of the japanese government's choice to let gasoline prices alone. That gave japanese consumers an incentive to buy energy-conserving stuff of various sorts, which gave japanese businesses an incentive to invent better versions.


Very well said. The less government governs the more opportunity for  people to innovate.

J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 11:04:06 am
Lincoln and FDR and Churchill caused vast numbers of deaths; they are supposedly the "greats."
Lincoln brought Negro slavery to an end, FDR and Churchill prevented concentration camps from being built in Britain and the United States.

Well, FDR's concentration camps were better than Hitler's concentration camps. The inmates weren't worked to death or exterminated. They were kept in a harsh climate but they were allowed to build whatever shelters they could afford. Some were shot for leaving the camps but in some places they were eventually allowed to walk out, and some were allowed to leave the camps completely, provided they stayed away from the west coast.

Our concentration camps were not only better than Hitler's camps, they were better than Stalin's camps and the japanese camps and pretty much everybody's concentration camps. Except maybe Canada. The Canadian concentration camps might have been better than ours.

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Had the Confederacy succeeded in dividing the United States - which, admittedly, instead of slavery, was the issue that caused the Union to actually fight the war instead of just saying "good riddance" to the South - it would not have been strong enough to be the decisive factor in two World Wars. In both of which, it helped defeat the forces of evil.

It's always fascinating to think about the only possible way history could have gone if it was different from what actually happened.

I tend to think that if the south had gotten an adequate financial structure they might have mostly given up slavery. When you buy a slave you have sunk costs from the very beginning. You are responsible for your investment, for his upkeep, for his medical costs, if he steals you are responsible, if he runs away you must post the reward to get him back -- and that's whether or not there's a recession and no work available for him.

But when you hire a wage-slave he's likely to be grateful to earn a pittance rather than be uemployed. He will work hard for fear you'll deny him the privilege of working for you. If anything goes wrong -- he gets sick, he gets in trouble, you no longer need his services -- you can just fire and forget him.

Slavery is impractical unless there is a labor shortage and a cash shortage.

The US south was kept as an undeveloped third-world area until after WWII. If they had the chance to develop for themselves, might they have advanced further?

And if by WWII there had been a southern nation with close ties to Britain, would they have gotten into the war earlier? Would the north have opposed Britain to be on the other side? Or seen their interests and joined Britain anyway?

Imagine, a divided USA might somehow have led to an equitable peace after WWI, and maybe the horrible evils that culminated in WWII might not have happened at all. The pre-WWII class structure of the USA might then have continued undisturbed.

My crystal ball is so cloudy I don't see a whole lot of inevitability in any of it. Maybe what actually happened was pretty much the only possibility and if anything had interrupted the flow it would have quickly cut its way back to the same channel. Or maybe there were moments where a small chance could have giant effects. I see no way to find out for sure.

J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 12:06:39 pm
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I don't speak for him, but this was a result of the japanese government's choice to let gasoline prices alone. That gave japanese consumers an incentive to buy energy-conserving stuff of various sorts, which gave japanese businesses an incentive to invent better versions.


Very well said. The less government governs the more opportunity for  people to innovate.

That isn't necessarily true, though we have lots of examples where it looks like it's worked out that way.

I have the example of penicillin. At the start of WWII that was a lab toy. A british biologist had noticed it, and the british government made some beginning efforts to see whether it could have practical use. What with the German bombing and all, Britain gave the project to the USA. The US government studied it in government labs and invited US companies to participate. They all worked together and found a collection of improvements -- cheaper culture media, better strains of fungus, growing conditions that resulted in better yield, better purification procedures, testing the result, etc. Once they had something that could be considered a commercial product, the cooperation stopped. The various industrial biologists went back to their own labs and worked on ways to improve it to make a better product to outcompete the others.

There's strong reason to think that government action resulted in quicker and better research, while that research was not really practical. It fell apart after it succeeded. Businesses can do cooperative research ventures; they fall apart at about the same point. They typically do less cooperation with fewer partners and start later in the development cycle.

Sometimes government makes a positive difference this way. Other times it does not. Government space exploration has not paid off, beyond LEO earth-facing satellites. If space ever becomes profitable then we can expect a lot of private research finding ways to cut costs etc. While it's mostly a few large corporations paid by Uncle Sugar, not so much. But if something profitable does show up, it's likely to come from the data the impractical government-funded research brings home. Because highly competitive businesses have limited resources for that sort of thing.

Government does things that enhance innovation and things that suppress it. If we're going to have government it would be better to encourage the good parts and reduce the bad parts. If we do away with government then we might look for alternative ways to do the good parts. I claim the US government has done some good things. I cannot claim that this is the only possible way to do them.

terry_freeman on October 01, 2010, 01:47:08 am
Slavery ended in almost every other country in the world without civil war. Why did Lincoln need to engineer the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people? The end of slavery is merely a bad excuse for mass murder. In reality, Lincoln himself said that "preserving the Union" ( that is, preserving his own power ) was more important than ending slavery - he would preserve the union with or without slavery.

The "Emancipation Proclamation" freed not one slave. It took effect (supposedly) only in the Confederate lands over which Lincoln had no control whatsoever. The Union included slave states and territories, and not one of the Union slaves was freed.

Slave owners depend on externalizing the cost of depriving slaves of liberty. It is expensive to chase after escaped slaves and return them to "service." The Fugitive Slave Acts exported that cost to Federal, State, and Local governments. Some States chose to nullify those laws - to not return escaped slaves. Some people chose to positively support the Underground Railroad. In other countries in the world, slavery ended as a result of similar measures. My guess is that if the Confederacy had been left alone, and the Union had stopped treating escaped slaves as "property" to be "returned", slavery would not have lasted another generation.

terry_freeman on October 01, 2010, 01:49:27 am
The primary effect of WW I and WW II was not to prevent Hitler from taking over Europe, but to make the world safe for Soviet Communism, enabling it to last 75 years. Odds are that Hitler and Stalin would have battled to a mutual-death scenario, and both would have expired from exhaustion.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 03:24:45 am
Slavery ended in almost every other country in the world without civil war. Why did Lincoln need to engineer the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people?

He probably didn't plan it that way. One thing led to another.

When you demand unconditional surrender, then you give up all choice about when the war ends, and leave that choice entirely to the enemy.

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My guess is that if the Confederacy had been left alone, and the Union had stopped treating escaped slaves as "property" to be "returned", slavery would not have lasted another generation.


I can see reasons to think the same way. But it's always uncertain how to choose the one way things had to be if they were different.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 03:37:06 am
The primary effect of WW I and WW II was not to prevent Hitler from taking over Europe, but to make the world safe for Soviet Communism, enabling it to last 75 years. Odds are that Hitler and Stalin would have battled to a mutual-death scenario, and both would have expired from exhaustion.

It takes a lot of skill to get those mutual-death scenarios to play out just right. Kind of like blowing up a building so it falls straight. Not so easy to get it perfect.

For awhile it looked like the USSR was losing badly. The USA supplied the USSR with radio tubes, optics, and trucks. That made a big difference to them. If the USSR had failed to the point that Germany got a lot of soviet oil, that would have been very bad. It made sense to send those supplies.

But then the USSR started winning, and we weren't cynical enough back then to send a lot of supplies or oil etc to Germany. Officially we wanted to win the war against Germany and Japan as quickly as possible so our troops could go home. Hard to justify doing nothing while Germany and Russia slowly destroy each other, given that.

It would have been a lot easier for us if the USSR had declared war on us too, like the Germans did. But they just weren't that obliging. The USA probably did about as well as we could at sapping USSR strength, given what we knew at the time and given our constraints. Remember, this was before McCarthy, and it was marginally respectable in the USA to be a socialist and pro-Russia back then.

macsnafu on October 01, 2010, 10:51:32 am

The USA probably did about as well as we could at sapping USSR strength, given what we knew at the time and given our constraints. Remember, this was before McCarthy, and it was marginally respectable in the USA to be a socialist and pro-Russia back then.


Except of course when we sent wheat and other humanitarian efforts to the USSR, first back in the 1920's (well before WWII, and then again in the 1950s (after WWII and as the "Cold War" was heating up, and then again in the 1970s.  For an enemy, the U.S. sure treated the USSR pretty well, and probably kept them from falling apart earlier than they actually did.

I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

terry_freeman on October 19, 2010, 07:37:38 am
J Thomas: When you demand unconditional surrender, then you give up all choice about when the war ends, and leave that choice entirely to the enemy.

That's ridiculous. You can retract your absurd demands. You can even admit that you were a total ass for starting the war in the first place.

J Thomas on October 19, 2010, 09:36:40 am
J Thomas: When you demand unconditional surrender, then you give up all choice about when the war ends, and leave that choice entirely to the enemy.

That's ridiculous. You can retract your absurd demands. You can even admit that you were a total ass for starting the war in the first place.

While you demand unconditional surrender, you give up all choice about when the war ends. You can only wait for the enemy to unconditionally surrender, unless things get so bad that you accept the enemy's surrender demands.

So for example, imagine that the Yankees had demanded unconditional surrender from the Confederates. The result would be that the Confederates would fight until they could not fight any longer, maximising the misery of the war, because they would have no prospect of anything good coming from surrender.

Imagine that the Allies had demanded unconditional surrender in WWI. Isn't it plausible that the germans etc would have fought longer and harder? Why should their leaders unconditionally surrender while the enemy troops were singing songs about hanging them?

Imagine that the Allies had demanded unconditional surrender in WWII. The US stated goal was to end the war as quickly as possible. But it's such a big step to accept defeat with no indication what would happen next, except that it's completely out of your hands. Wouldn't they have fought as long as they reasonably could? There was always the chance that a secret weapon might make all the difference at the last minute.... As in fact it did in the case of Japan, but unfortunately for them it was our secret weapon.

There's reason to think that if we had demanded unconditional surrender, Germany might have not surrendered until the tanks were rolling into Berlin. Japan might have tried to get their starving civilians -- old people and children -- to attack our invasion forces with sharp sticks. The war might have continued for months longer with many extra casualties.

The big plus for unconditional surrender is that it makes negotiation with allies easier. Allies might bicker over what surrender terms are acceptable, but everybody can agree on unconditional surrender. And the losing side will try to split up allies during surrender negotiations. The ideal case for them would be for one or more allies to switch sides, or more plausibly for one or more allies to agree to a separate peace while the rest soldier on. Allies can play into that, though. Bicker over the details while the enemy negotiating team watches, and hammer out minor concessions. The enemy feels like they've achieved something and at the same time they know they won't get a better deal....

I don't see that the US government was a total ass for starting any of those three wars. But demanding total surrender would likely have gotten worse results in each case. Lucky our government knows better....   :-X

quadibloc on October 19, 2010, 12:56:12 pm
Imagine that the Allies had demanded unconditional surrender in WWII.
Gee, I must really have read some faulty history books. I thought they had done exactly that.

J Thomas on October 19, 2010, 06:35:48 pm
Imagine that the Allies had demanded unconditional surrender in WWII.

Gee, I must really have read some faulty history books. I thought they had done exactly that.

And the tanks had reached Berlin before Germany surrendered.
And the Japanese government tried to teach civilians to attack invasion forces with sharpened sticks, while they dithered about the unknown dangers of surrender.

See how accurate were my predictions!  ;)