“Kill It before It Grows”

· dKo journal

A BBC World Service poll that surveyed 23,518 people in 23 countries finds…
–“There is an extraordinary degree of consensus in favor of the UN becoming ‘significantly more powerful in world affairs.’
–“This prospect is seen as ‘mainly positive’ in every country (21 a majority, 2 a plurality) and by an average of 64 percent. A mere 19 percent on average sees this prospect as mainly negative….
–“Six in ten Americans (59%) favored it, with only 37 percent opposed.”
And…
–“In all countries but one, more people favor than oppose the idea of giving the UN Security Council the power to override the veto of a permanent member….
–“Respondents in the US, Britain, France, Russia and China were reminded in the question that their own country would lose the veto….
–“In the US, 57 percent favor giving up the absolute veto (34% opposed)”
What was the US really pre-empting with its pre-emptive war? Not Saddam, but effective UN sanctions and inspections. They had to be stopped before they could succeed and spread–metastasizing peace and eroding the diktat of the world’s only remaining Great Power.

Remember When Conservatives Believed in Free Markets?

· dKo journal

Once upon a time, Conservatives advocated a free market, with “consumer sovereignty,” for healthy Capitalist development.
Consumers would have money to spend. Businesses that efficiently offered them things they wanted to buy would get a larger proportion of consumer spending. They would thus be rewarded for their efficiency and desirable selection of offerings.
These businesses would thrive, and with their superior rate of profit, they would invest, hire, and grow, thus directing additional economic resources into efficient production of desirable products and services. The growing wages they paid would put money into the hands of consumers so they could afford to purchase the things they want–again rewarding the best busnesses.
In those days, Conservatives had faith in the “invisible hand” of consumer sovereignty as the engine of economic growth–specifically of efficient growth in desirable directions.
But wait a minute! What about the businesses that do not efficiently produce things that people want to buy? Is this fair to them? They make their campaign contributions just like everybody else. They hire retired legislators and former government regulators–in fact, they do more of this than the businesses that are better run. So all of a sudden they are arbitrarily cut out?
The answer to this dilemma is called “Supply-Side Economics.” Give money, in subsidies and tax breaks, to all businesses and all the wealthy, not just those that happen to be efficient in meeting consumer demand. Furthermore, give them incentives for all the things they were already doing, not just incentives for which they have to do more, more investing and more hiring than they would have done anyway.
If you give enough money to the wealthy, some of it is bound to be spent in ways that benefit consumers, wage-earners, and society at large. They can’t just grab, spend, and waste it all. Can they?
Indiscriminately subsidized Capitalism is fair to all business and wealth. It is the heart of our American system. The most subversive threat to Capitalism today is consumer sovereignty in a free market economy. Frittering money away on wage-earning consumers only gets in the way.

A Favorite Paradox

· dKo journal

With thanks to Bertrand Russell…
“I thought your boat was larger than it is.”
“No, my boat is not larger than it is.”

Shamefully Truncated Abstinence Programs

· dKo journal

The Bush administration is now funding a sexual abstinence program as part of its contribution to fighting AIDS in Africa. Abstinence is also a mainstay of its efforts against both youth pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases within the US. So that is consistent.
But there are rumors that backsliders in the administration want to restrict all the abstinence programs to unmarried couples only! What kind of consistency is that?

The Sadr City War on Drugs

· dKo journal

A fairly harsh crackdown in the War on Drugs–primarily alcohol–has apparently taken hold in Sadr City and other Iraqi centers where US military power is weak.
I personally find this overzealous, hard-line Islamist drug-law enforcement to be both abusive and intolerant–though I don’t doubt they can point to many depredations of alcohol on individuals and families that would trouble anyone.
But if the American Right wishes to deploy our military forces to protect Drug King Pins, I am sure they could find plenty of work counterattacking DEA offensives much closer to home.
And save a whole lot on gas.

Haitians and Maccabees – A Tribute

· dKo journal

Having so recently told my grandson for the first time the Chanukah story–the defeat of three successive, heavily armored Hellenic colonial armies by agrarian Jewish guerillas in 168 BCE–I read this in the paper today, and the juxtaposition brought me to tears.

…an astounding, and forgotten, episode in Western history. Since Haiti alone produced as much foreign trade at that time as the whole of the 13 colonies of North America, it was potentially a great loss. It belonged to France, but Britain supplied it with slaves, a valuable trade since the slaves were intentionally worked to death – it was cheaper to replace them than to sustain them – so the market for Africans was very brisk. Uprisings had long been frequent in the West Indies, but at long last rage in Haiti converged with the tactical brilliance of Toussaint L’Ouverture and others and the slaves seized the island. This part of the story is familiar. But there is more.

First the British and then the French under Napoleon sent huge forces against the Haitians. The British sent a larger army against Haiti than it had dispatched to fight in the American Revolution. And it buried 60 percent of those soldiers in Haiti. The two greatest powers on earth went up against a population of half-starved, desperate people and were utterly defeated.

NYT Books
[My italics]