March 18th, 2011


Libya and Other News

So, it looks like we're actually going to intervene in Libya. Under some circumstances I'd be all for that. If we'd actually committed as a nation to the grand strategy of spreading freedom to fight islamofascism . . . If we were committed to follow-through in Iraq and Afghanistan to make sure they didn't backslide into the kind of misery we went in to overthrow . . . If we'd added a couple of divisions of dedicated occupation troops to the Army as I've advocated since before we went into Iraq . . . then Libya would be a great strategic target of opportunity. Unquestionably evil dictator, consensus against him from his neighbors, populace in revolt--great target for an overthrow and some nation-building.

But we haven't done that ground work and I don't want us losing the progress we've made so far by being distracted somewhere else. Iraq is about as successful as counter-insurgency can be (NEWSFLASH: victory is boring). Afghanistan has a lot of hope. If we suck troops out of there to go fight in Libya it'll encourage the Taliban to hang on longer.

Yeah, right now we're saying "no fly zone". That's a terrible way to intervene. It's like reaching out of your tent, getting a good grip on a nostril, and pulling the camel's nose inside. It just postpones decisive action and insures Gaddafi's anti-aircraft troops will be at peak training when we have to clear the way for the infantry to come in. Though if the goal is postponing hard decisions until after the next election it's a great strategy.

EDIT: BTW, what the heck happened to getting Congress to vote before starting a new war? I'm fine with calling a declaration of war an "authorization for use of military force" but you really need to get those clowns on record or the "I told you so"s will start in a week.


In other headlines, Japan's having some trouble with a nuclear reactor. Most of the analysis on this has been completely math-free. One bit of math I am sure of: the injuries and deaths from the radiation leaks will be smaller than the margin of error in the casualties from the earthquake and tsunami. And possibly smaller than the number of people who are getting sick because they're not getting enough heat in the winter weather.


Wisconsin volunteered to be lightning rod for one of the key issues facing the country. We're racking up government debt faster than we ever have before. Sure, some people think "we're not broke" because the credit card balance is still below the limit. But a college student can't suck up all of the money the bank can lend out. The federal government can. When we hit the credit limit it's going to be a painful shock for everyone. We can reduce that pain by dealing with the problem now--but that means having some pain now, and lots of people object to that. Especially the ones whose good deals have to end to make the budgets balance.

Yes, that includes teachers. "But they're not overpaid!" Salary isn't the problem. It's pensions and featherbedding. There's more and more "teachers" who don't spend time in the classroom. The contracts are especially nice when the union is on both sides of the bargaining table. The last school board election in my district was won by a guy who touted having a wife, sister, and brother-in-law in the union. That was his qualifications. Outside government that's considered a firing-level conflict of interest. Politicians find it easier to promise bigger pensions, earlier retirement dates, and better health benefits. They can hide that from the taxpayers and let the bill come due later.

Well, it's later.

Now we've got 9% unemployment and the government employee unions are growing in numbers. Oh, it's unfair for you to be subject to the winds of capitalist change because you wanted to avoid that system? Too bad. It's unfair for the rest of us to carry you while our burdens our increasing. Oh, you want the "rich" to pick up the tab so no one but them suffers? Well, the math doesn't work out like that. You could take everything from the top earners and still not close the deficit*. We have to cut somewhere, and the union workers having comfortable lives will have to suffer along with the rest of us.

The blogger I linked also wishes Democrats would be more aggressive. I guess death threats are too tame for him.

*And that's without considering how that kind of incentive system would put a huge damper on economic growth.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated