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Iran Redux

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Democrats across the land had a major "I told you so" moment this week when a new National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran stopped their clandestine nuclear weapons program back in 2003. Democrat candidates for president in 2008 renewed their calls for diplomacy with no preconditions, with Edwards taking the opportunity to attack Clinton for her record on hawkishness regarding Iran, and Obama chastising the choice by the Bush Administration to ever rattle the saber. Hillary at least acknowledged the reality that diplomacy requires both carrots and sticks, which gives her even more credibility in my book (but still not enough to bring me to vote for her).

The Tehran Times was quick to point out that the "NIE report [was] a complete fiasco for the US" and the San Francisco Chronicle asked whether "Bush [is] out of touch on Iran? Or willfully ignorant?"

I'm sure some people at Blogcritics felt vindicated by this news as well, especially after the "healthy" debate that followed my September article on Why We Can't Live With A Nuclear Iran. Surely this new NIE is proof positive that the nation of Iran is really a misunderstood, complex sort of fellow who is just another victim of Bush's salacious neocon imperialistic tendencies.

Would you really want to trust this man with nuclear power?I'd prefer a world where we didn't have to worry about an Iranian nuclear threat (or any nuclear threat for that matter). However, the new NIE report, despite mainstream media gullibility, doesn't really change the issues with Iran's nuclear program, nor should it materially change the way the US and the international community deals with Iran. While the NIE has been portrayed as a huge blow to the credibility of the US and its intelligence community, the reality isn't nearly as straightforward. Any lowering of our guard as a result of this information is at our own peril.

First, it's worth pointing out that the NIE confirms that Iran was indeed pursuing a nuclear weapons program as recently as four years ago. This illegal program was under the radar of the IAEA and flouted the law of the international community. That Iran stopped this program in 2003 is curious – while we can never truly know what's in the heart of man, I have a feeling that the U.S. response to Saddam Hussein's (lack of) WMD's may have been a factor in Tehran's decision to abandon, or at least pack away for the moment, their quest for nukes. One thing is clear; the mullarchy didn't halt the program out of the goodness of their hearts.

More importantly, Iran has not stopped their quest for so-called peaceful nuclear energy. Worse, they are not willing to participate in a situation where this "peaceful" effort is monitored and it's fuel and waste managed by international entities.

Why does that matter? It's important to understand what's at play here. One of the by-products of even peaceful nuclear reactors is the manmade element Plutonium. While the massive "city killer" nuclear bombs that were manufactured by the super powers during the cold war were made out of a highly weaponized version of Plutonium (as well as other elements), the Plutonium that is generated as a by-product in nuclear reactors is sufficient by itself to make a substantial nuclear bomb. According to the Nuclear Energy Information Service, "Each year a typical 1000 mega-watt commercial power reactor will produce 300 to 500 pounds of plutonium — enough to build between 25 – 40 Nagasaki-sized atomic bombs." To be clear, even peaceful nuclear technology in the wrong hands can be easily exploited to make full scale nuclear bombs.

Bear in mind, Iran's program has always been clandestine and in violation of U.N. rule, and the NIE doesn't change that reality. And while the NIE says the weapons program has been halted, our intelligence capability, as well as that of the international community, is not what we once thought it was. It's possible that the NIE missed something. It's probable that the IAEA, under the bumbling management of Mohammad El Baradei, missed something.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal offered an opinion piece ("High Confidence Games", WSJ, 12/5/07) calling into question the political motivation of some of the authors of this NIE, suggesting that they have a strong left wing, anti-Bush bias.

Equally compelling is the fact that U.S. allies such as Britain and even France came out in support of President Bush's comments following the release of the NIE. France is hardly a U.S. lackey, and Gordon Brown took office under the "anti Bush" mandate. One has to wonder what they are concerned about.

But I am willing to give the NIE the benefit of the doubt that Iran has halted an explicit effort to weaponize. Still, an Iranian government with Nuclear power of any kind can easily resume a weapons program at a time of their choice as nuclear energy generation and weaponization share many of the same disciplines. It's like outlawing guns but allowing people to have black powder, pellets and steel tubing.

Many will chastise me as they did before, for questioning Iran's sovereign right to explore whatever technologies they choose, including nuclear ones. This point is magnified in the face of a nuclear Pakistan, Israel, and most (supposedly) hypocritical of all, the United States. While it may be fun to indulge in theory, I'd be a lot more comfortable if no one had nukes at all. But I'll settle for at least ensuring any tyrannical regimes who support terrorism, who's military is recognized as a terrorist group and actively kills American troops, and whose leader speaks of genocide, never gets their hands on a nuke.

But I don't want this to become a second round of that same old discussion we had last time because I think sane people recognize at least that less nukes is a good thing, and at best, that Iran should not have nukes. This isn't about waiting for an imminent threat – nuclear power is a responsibility not a right. It can devastate human life on a grand scale.

Now consider these realities: Iran has designs to be the super power of the Middle East (to the consternation of many of their neighbors – not just Israel). Iran has long range nuclear warhead delivery systems that they continue to work on to this day. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been working on the types of detonators needed specifically to start a nuclear explosion – this work wasn't halted in 2003 as far as we know. Iran has a growing nuclear technology that is by definition dual use, as well as the technologists to exploit. And we now know that Iran has engaged in an effort to weaponize their nuclear technology in the past. As they say in Hip Hop, "Don't Sleep."

In the face of growing doubt about the West's ability to gauge the situation on the ground in Iran, and the real nature of any threat, how do we proceed? Bush was quick to call for Iran to "Come Clean" about their program. While I think the guy's heart is in the right place, this was not the best way to kick off the discussion. Meanwhile much of the rest of the world took the NIE as license to lower their guards, or as an excuse to continue to do nothing, as well as to turn Bush's comments into caricature. Neither approach is the right one, and while it's welcome news that Iran has halted their quest for nukes for now, the world must remain vigilant.

While Bush's message following the NIE was brusque, it was also right; the International Community needs to keep its eye on the ball and must continue to apply pressure on Iran. But we also do need to engage Iran. In fact, we should become their best buddy, sidle up real close and build some ties that bind. It's time to recognize that the International Community simply won't be single minded enough to make any real progress via sanctions or isolationism. Talking to Tehran may cede them a certain amount of prestige, but I think we are way past the point where that matters. And let's be clear, talking to Tehran does not mean agreeing with them.

Any discussion needs the backing of possible military action. I'll say it again, assuming Iran did halt their program in 2003, U.S. military force and the desire to not become the next Iraq was clearly a factor in their decision. I am not a proponent of striking Iran militarily right now; I think there are other options still open to us. But the military option can't be taken off the table, ever.

While the path forward should be fairly clear, I have no belief that any of what I have suggested will actually take place. What's far more likely is that Bush will continue his hard headed approach, will continue to be ignored, and his concerns will be assigned to the heap of neocon aspirations. The U.N. Security Counsel, whose members have much more to gain financially from Iran by not making a big fuss (China and Russia have already signaled that they won't support new efforts at sanctions as a result of the new NIE), and who are appeasers at their very heart (when it suits them), will ignore the part of the NIE that confirms Iran has indulged in clandestine desires for nuclear weapons, and will instead selectively remember the part that says they halted the program in 2003.

The U.S., eager to put Bush and any ugly matters of war behind them, will focus on much more noble endeavors such as Global Warming and universal healthcare. The world will go to sleep on this issue, only to wake up years later to find evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapon test (within the borders of Iran one hopes), similar to what happened with North Korea. What will we do then?

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About The Obnoxious American

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    What the left just seems not to get about the NIE and the situation with Iran, even though it ought to be blazingly obvious, is that in the period leading up to 2003 Iran had plenty of time to develop the basic technology to make nuclear weapons. Now their ‘peaceful’ nuclear power program is moving forward to develop the raw materials. They don’t need to have an active weapons program while they’re building up their ability to generate plutonium, and as soon as they have enough weapons grade plutonium they can reactivate their weapons program in a matter of weeks.

    Iran has created a situation where they can make a legitimate sounding denial that they are working on nukes, while at the same time doing nothing to even slow down their weapon development.

    Dave

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter that much whether Iran has nuclear weapons or not. Just as the doctrine of mutually assured destruction successfully prevented a nuclear war between the West and the Soviet Union, the same will apply here.

    In fact, given that Israel has, illegally and without meaningful complaint from the West, joined the nuclear club and that the USA either already has or certainly would let Tehran know that it would retaliate massively if Iran did launch an attack, I doubt that much will change at all if Iran does succeed in making such weapons.

    A quick look at a map shows that there is a pretty large arc of fire around Iran and it seems pretty rational on their part to want to strengthen their negotiating position by building a stronger hand.

    As to the NIE report, it seems more than a little strange that it has changed its views so dramatically in the space of two years.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I’d prefer a world where we didn’t have to worry about an Iranian nuclear threat”

    Why worry? There’s no reasonable forseeable scenario where the US would ever be attacked by an Iranian nuke. It’s like mutually assured destruction but even better, it’d be one way Iranian suicide.

    Best stick to worrying about heart disease, vehicle safety, and the education of the next generation.

  • bliffle

    Apparently, there are 30 nations that have the ability to develop nukes. What is proposed for them?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doug,

    Iran has close ties with many terrorists groups, they actively support attacks on US military in Iraq (although that activity has been in decline since the surge went into full swing).

    Iran with nukes can drastically change the balance of power and destabilize the middle east in a way that will make the Iraq war look like a side show.

    Moreover, given their ties to Hezbolla as well as their support for any anti us movement, there is a good possibility that an Iranian nuke could be passed on to a terror cell and who knows where that would end up. And I’m not even talking about the possibility of Iran striking Israel or any country within the 1200 mile radius of Iranian missile technology.

    MAD assumes a state will actually limit the use of nukes to a time of their choosing. Can the same level of discretion really be assigned to the mullahs? I’m not willing to take that chance.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Bliffle,

    To your point, I am starting a new program here at BC. Whenever someone poses a question that is actually covered in the article, I will simply quote. So in answer to your question:

    “Many will chastise me as they did before, for questioning Iran’s sovereign right to explore whatever technologies they choose, including nuclear ones. This point is magnified in the face of a nuclear Pakistan, Israel, and most (supposedly) hypocritical of all, the United States. While it may be fun to indulge in theory, I’d be a lot more comfortable if no one had nukes at all. But I’ll settle for at least ensuring any tyrannical regimes who support terrorism, who’s military is recognized as a terrorist group and actively kills American troops, and whose leader speaks of genocide, never gets their hands on a nuke.”

  • The Obnoxious American

    BTW Doug, I realize you were being sarcastic, but others might not :>

  • bliffle

    How about our Loyal Royal pals in pakistan? AQ Khan (who should be rotting in solitary confinement for his crimes) already created a greater threat to the USA than any Iranian has done, or probably could do.

    Or is it OK because he did it for money rather than ideology?

    Why does anyone believe anything that GWB says about Iran?

  • Clavos

    Strong article, OA.

    What makes you so sure Doug was being sarcastic?

  • Brian

    It should also be noted that by having a clandestine nuclear weapons program, Iran was and still is in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signer. In this light, any claims of Iran’s sovereign right to pursue nuclear technology without foreign intervention are null and void. It forfeited those rights when it broke the terms of the NPT.

    Secondly, the real threat posed by a nuclear armed Iran is that a bomb gives them impunity for nearly any aggressive action against its neighbors. Nuclear Weapons ensure that any wars between two nuclear powers will be full scale and catastrophic. In this manner, nuclear weapons can be a stabilizing force. However, when third party proxies are employed by one side to attack the other, for example using Hezbollah to attack Isreal, there are few options left to the other side. Provided these proxy attacks do not amount to mass genocide, the other side will just have to learn to live with it. In the case of Isreal, this would mean living with constant attacks.

    Bottom line, even if Iran behaves as a rational actor with a nuclear weapon and does not give it to a terrorist organization, the consequences of a nuclear armed Iran are still unacceptable to the US or the west in general.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It’s entirely too typical of the right-wing warmongerers on this site to take good news and piss all over it. Even Dick Cheney accepts the new NIE as a change in the situation. But Dave Nalle? Nah! ‘Cause he’s never wrong.

    Or maybe Nalle thinks Cheney is now part of his all purpose bete noir, “the left”?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    Just judging based on Doug’s prior responses. He might be serious in a dismissive kind of way. I can’t say I blame him, and the last paragraph in the article goes to that same pessimism.

    Handyguy,

    A more reasoned response would be to actually attack the points Dave (or I) made, rather than simply turn this yet again into a partisan bickering session.

    I find it rather hard to agree with you throwing the label of warmonger around here, when IRAN is the one trying to secretly make nukes. It’s silly to make that charge when any rational view of the situation shows that Iran has done something that they shouldn’t. The only question is the response. I don’t agree that we should accept this situation, and anyone who is concerned about this country should feel the same way. Whether they do is another question entirely.

    Bliffle,

    Did I tell you about this new program I am instituting, about responding to questions that are covered in the article? Regarding pakistan and AQ Khan:

    “Many will chastise me as they did before, for questioning Iran’s sovereign right to explore whatever technologies they choose, including nuclear ones. This point is magnified in the face of a nuclear Pakistan, Israel, and most (supposedly) hypocritical of all, the United States. While it may be fun to indulge in theory, I’d be a lot more comfortable if no one had nukes at all. But I’ll settle for at least ensuring any tyrannical regimes who support terrorism, who’s military is recognized as a terrorist group and actively kills American troops, and whose leader speaks of genocide, never gets their hands on a nuke.”

    To your other question, nowhere do I reference anything “GWB” says about Iran, other than his comments about them coming clean.

    If you read this article you’d know my premise is almost entirely based on contents of the NIE, which proves that Iran did try to make actual nuclear weapons in secret, and to this day continues to try and generate the fuel for said weapons. You don’t actually think they want nukes for energy do you? You realize they are sitting on a ton of oil, besides they could have a nuclear reactor with full international support if they let the UN manage the fuel and waste. Why wouldn’t they agree to that if they just wanted energy?

    You’re going to have to do better than the same old left wing anti bush refrains if you are going to post to one of my articles my dear friend.

  • troll

    …I take it that few of you put much stock in Ali Khamenei’s ’05 fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons

  • The Obnoxious American

    If they backed that fatwah up by actually letting the UN manage the inputs and outputs of the nuclear energy process, then maybe. But their actions are hardly sincere.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    A little partisan bickering gets the old blood pumping. Good for the soul.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Partisan Bickering? Isn’t that a Serbian soccer club…?

    I don’t want to bicker, but I do want to challenge something OA has written – actually, the paragraph which seems to me to be at the heart of his argument.

    He writes: “…while the NIE says the weapons program has been halted, our intelligence capability, as well as that of the international community, is not what we once thought it was. It’s possible that the NIE missed something. It’s probable that the IAEA, under the bumbling management of Mohammad El Baradei, missed something.”

    This seems to be unbacked opinion. Exactly how is the intelligence community, which has a history of both stunning coups de grâce and right royal fuck-ups, any more or less competent than it once was? What is “bumbling” about ElBaradei’s helmsmanship of the IAEA… other than, perhaps, that they didn’t find what the Bush admin wanted them to find?

  • Baronius

    Maybe the Iranian government has no interest in attacking the US. Maybe they have no friends who’d like to attack the US. They definitely want to attack some of our friends. That’s not too high a standard to hold ourselves to, protecting our allies from becoming powder. So their nuclear program has to be a matter of interest for us.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris seems to think that MAD is a workable strategy in the Middle East. It isn’t.

    What is a workable nuclear strategy is the fear by all sides that one country will strike first to obtain its goals. A quick look at the map reveals the reason why. As you move west from the Zagros Mountains in western Iran, you discover that nobody in the neighborhood has strategic depth except perhaps Turkey. Nuclear strikes here are not hard shots below the solar plexus, as they might be to the United States or Russia, they are power punches ramming the nose’s cartilage into the brain. In other words, nuclear strikes are the end of the country hit.

    That is why, when I have advocated Israel’s use of nuclear weapons, I have always advocated a first strike. This is not bloodthirstiness, it is the desire to see the strategy work.

    I agree with OA that a nuclear Iran is not an option for the Middle East. No matter what the US intelligence boys would have us all believe, a nuclear Iran is a guarantee of nuclear war, and that is not where we want to go.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Well, of course we should remain aware and vigilant about the nuclear [or as our so-brilliant president insists, “newkeelar”] capabilities and plans of Iran and of other countries. Accusing Democrats of believing otherwise is either a bad habit or a deliberate noise-machine distortion tactic.

    What is objectionable in the administration’s rhetoric and in stubbornly warlike and obtuse articles like this one is the emphasis on military threat and bombast. Do we have to match Ahmadinejad’s overheated rhetoric line for line? Was it truly necessary or wise for the President of the United States to bring up World War III at press conferences in talking about this subject?

    Diplomacy should be the first resort, not the last. Making war noises is a very dangerous game. Did no one learn the lessons of Iraq – that responding to apocalyptic rhetoric rather than the more mundane reality gets us in deep doo-doo every time?

    The Bushies deliberately ignored/slapped down overtures from Iranian moderates before Ahmadinejad was elected. Those moderates may no longer exert enough influence to change anything. Why does the right insist this was good, sensible policy?

    Can we have a regime change, please? The sooner the better.

  • Les Slater

    “Can we have a regime change, please? The sooner the better.”

    January 2009 is not that far away. However, that regime change is not going to fundamentally change anything.

    The U.S. and its imperialist allies are still going to continue to be the war mongers that they must be.

    Iran is not the problem. It is Washington.

  • Lumpy

    Les is right. Regime change needs to start at the UN and in the Hague. The international socialists and their NGOs must be desttoyed before we cam restore our republic to the values of the constritution.

  • Les Slater

    The UN is in New York, but it is dominated by Washington, imperialist Washington.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Les, people would take you more seriously if you stopped parroting the same rhetoric the communist international has been nonsensically spewing out for 30 years and perhaps focused on some positive aspect of communism which might benefit the workers of the US. The whole imperialism canard just alienates people and sounds silly when so clearly out of touch with reality.

    Dave

  • Jacob

    Dave

    True or False:

    The U.S. and its imperialist allies are still going to continue to be the war mongers

    The UN is in New York, but it is dominated by Washington, imperialist Washington.

    It doesn’t take a commie to figure it out.

  • Les Slater

    “… so clearly out of touch with reality.”

    From the guy who says the U.S. never made a profit from war.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    What war do you think the US profited from, Les? Let’s see an example, because I’ve studied the history of our wars and we’ve taken huge losses as a nation on just about every one of them, unless you count the very indirect benefits of a buildup of our industrial base, or the gain in influence which bailing other countries out at our cost gets us. Direct profit as in plunder and conquest – not a bit of it.

    I’ll even help you out. The worst examples you can come up with are going to be Panama, Hawaii, Samoa and the Spanish American War. In none of those cases did our government or the mass of our citizens gain direct profit. At most they improved conditions for capitalism to operate in those areas, which may have benefited some US and international companies, but also benefited the people of those regions. The only way you can view those wars negatively would be if you think capitalism itself is bad, and in that you’re in a tiny minority, Les – even the Chinese aren’t with you anymore.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    WW-II is one example. The destruction wrought on much of the civilized world was rebuilt primarily with investments from the U.S. Those investments were hugely profitable and drove the U.S. economy for decades, the post-war economic boom which lasted until the mid ‘60s.

    Before the war the U.S. capitalist class was making very little profit; it was in an economic depression until war spending started ramping up.

    “Direct profit as in plunder and conquest…”

    That’s not the definition of profit. Plunder and conquest are neither necessary nor excluded.

    Les

  • Clavos

    “WW-II is one example. The destruction wrought on much of the civilized world was rebuilt primarily with investments from the U.S. Those investments were hugely profitable and drove the U.S. economy for decades, the post-war economic boom which lasted until the mid ’60s.”

    So, either:

    1) Hitler and Tojo should not have been opposed by the Allies, or

    2) The US shouldn’t have helped the world rebuild with our tax dollars, which also gave a lot of employment to US working class people, and as you pointed out was the root cause of the boom times from about 1948 through to Vietnam, or

    3) we could have just taxed the crap out of Americans and just given the cash to all those countries and let them rebuild themselves with their own resources, or

    4) We could have left the whole world blown to shit and retreated back into our own borders and done nothing.

    I think we did it the best way.

    Too bad some capitalists (gasp! Choke! The horror!) made money on it; so did hundreds of thousands of workers; in fact the Marshall Plan and all the rebuilding pretty much created the largest and most prosperous middle class (lower and upper) in history.

  • Les Slater

    Clavos,

    “Too bad some capitalists (gasp! Choke! The horror!) made money on it;…”

    It’s called profits.

    “… so did hundreds of thousands of workers;…”

    They were given jobs, and/or, got direct aid. A wage or dole is not profit.

    “…in fact the Marshall Plan and all the rebuilding pretty much created the largest and most prosperous middle class (lower and upper) in history.”

    After any prosperity they had had been destroyed.

    “…we could have just taxed the crap out of Americans and just given the cash to all those countries and let them rebuild themselves with their own resources…”

    That was the Marshall Plan. It was essentially a subsidy to U.S. exporters, and they did indeed make profits on it.

    Les

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    WW-II is one example. The destruction wrought on much of the civilized world was rebuilt primarily with investments from the U.S. Those investments were hugely profitable and drove the U.S. economy for decades, the post-war economic boom which lasted until the mid ’60s.

    Were those investments harmful to those on whose behalf they were spent? I think very much the opposite. Did non US companies also profit in the post war environment? Certainly so.

    So what you’re calling profit from the war, is in fact, a post war economic boom from which everyone benefited.

    Oooh no. The nasty capitalists made everyone better off. Damn them.

    Before the war the U.S. capitalist class was making very little profit; it was in an economic depression until war spending started ramping up.

    That’s the nature of war. It can drive economies.

    “Direct profit as in plunder and conquest…”

    That’s not the definition of profit. Plunder and conquest are neither necessary nor excluded.

    So what you’re condemning is not, in fact, profiting off of making war on others, it’s the much more basic evil of creating economic prosperity.

    Do you have any idea how ridiculous that is?

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    “… so did hundreds of thousands of workers;…”

    They were given jobs, and/or, got direct aid. A wage or dole is not profit.

    Les, as a communist you’re never going to be able to effectively fight capitalism if you don’t at least try to understand it.

    If you have no job and someone creates a job for you and you work at it, you have profited and that’s good.

    If economic prosperity increases wages at your existing job, you’ve profited and that’s good.

    A wage IS a profit if it’s more than you were making before. And from the perspective of the capitalist worker, whatever wages he earns above and beyond expenses is profit.

    Dave

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, you’re simply wrong, grotesquely bloodthirsty and incredibly naive.

    Adopting a tone of reasonableness about your preferred scenario simply makes you sound ever more brainless and heartless. “This is not bloodthirstiness, it is the desire to see the strategy work.”

    MAD will always work because preparation for launch can be detected in real time and actual launches confirmed within seconds and retaliatory launches made immediately.

    Your own words confirm this “In other words, nuclear strikes are the end of the country hit.” That is the absolute essence of mutually assured destruction.

    If you paid attention to the real world rather than your increasingly fevered and paranoid interpretations of events, you’d know this inconvenient truth.

    It’s probably attitudes like yours that are fuelling Iran’s desire for weapons. I’d certainly want to be able to protect myself and my country against the possibility of attack if I was the leader of Iran.

    It would be the responsible thing to do, just in case the type of dire events you predict come to pass, to say nothing of the growing ring of Western bases that almost completely encircle Iran.

  • troll

    Dave – your copy of ‘Philosophical Investigations’ is in the mail…allow Les a little rigor in the term ‘profit’ or you will force him to introduce ‘surplus value’ and things will get really tedious

    unless you are up for yet another rehash of classical economics

    but sophistry aside:

    anyone who turns a nut on a machine of war and is given bread for this labor ‘profits’ from war…the oxymoronic ‘capitalist worker’ cannot avoid his culpability by simply pointing fingers

    – workers unite: just say no

    btw Dave – based on the parts of your stock portfolio that you have shared – you are profiting from war as we ‘speak’

  • Les Slater

    “Were those investments harmful to those on whose behalf they were spent?”

    Dave, Dave, Dave. It was the fuckin’ war that was harmful. And the capitalists did profit from it. In other words war is profitable. It was MOSTLY profitable for the U.S. capitalists.

    “What war do you think the US profited from, Les? Let’s see an example, because I’ve studied the history of our wars and we’ve taken huge losses as a nation on just about every one of them,…”

    So, you go from denying that the U.S. profited from the war to just claiming it was good.

    “If you have no job and someone creates a job for you and you work at it, you have profited and that’s good.

    “If economic prosperity increases wages at your existing job, you’ve profited and that’s good.

    “A wage IS a profit if it’s more than you were making before. And from the perspective of the capitalist worker, whatever wages he earns above and beyond expenses is profit.”

    No theory of economics has treated profits in the manner you attempt to foist here since before Adam Smith.

    Dave, you’re never going to be able to effectively defend capitalism if you don’t at least try to understand it. If you do understand it, stop pretending you don’t.

    Les

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    I see you’ve gotten back and are contributing again. Good!

    There is a subtle distinction between a strike first strategy and mutually assured destruction. A strike first strategy is letting the enemy know in various ways that if they threaten your nation’s existence, you will strike first. Mutual assured destruction is a strategy where two sides build up their weapons to the point where the title of the strategy is the only imaginable outcome should nuclear war break out.

    I should point out that at present, Israel does not have a strike first strategy.

    Iran has strategic depth. It’s a big place with people in lots of places. So a nuclear strike would be a painful blow to the solar plexus, not a fatal blow. Even the destruction of Tehran would not destroy the country. This is not true of Israel, Jordan, Egypt (where 95 percent of the populace crowds the shores of the Nile), Iraq or even Syria.

    Having said all this, and having asserted that at this point a nuclear Iran is not a viable option for her western neighbors, I must also point out another fact, one overlooked by the author.

    Iranians will want nuclear weapons if for the only the reason of asserting Iranian sovereignty as a matter of national pride. This has nothing to do with the regime in power. Any regime there will want nukes. The present regime has threatened the extinction of one of her remote neighbors as a matter of policy and is apparently at war with the State of Israel. This regime’s attitudes are dangerous. It is not for nothing that other nations encircle it.

    But even the Shah, an American puppet, wanted nuclear weapons, and it is easy to see any regime wanting one. Persia is an ancient nation seeking to reassert its greatness, and this is one of the strands of Iranian nuclear policy today.

  • Clavos

    Obviously, Hitler and Tojo should not have been stopped.

    Thus, the world would have avoided WW II, the capitalists would not have profited, and the world would be at peace, with a benign state watching over its sheep; each working according to his ability and having his subsistence doled out according to his need.

    Oh, no, wait…Hitler and Tojo weren’t communists!

    Never mind…

  • Clavos

    Only a communist could come up with the weird viewpoint that US involvement in WW II and the subsequent boom were somehow immoral.

    C’mon, Les. Don’t you think Vietnam or Iraq would be better examples with which to make your point?

    Sheesh.

  • Les Slater

    Clavos,

    “Don’t you think Vietnam or Iraq would be better examples with which to make your point?”

    No, WWII was a qualified win for U.S. imperialism. It did destroy enough to make some hefty profits for a couple decades. As Viet Nam was ramping up the post-war economic boom was ramping down. The cost of the Viet Nam war greatly contributed to the ending of U.S. supremacy in economics. And the U.S. lost that war and has been in economic decline since. It was even forced to go off the gold standard in 1971.

    Iraq is just an attempt at re-conquering what has been lost. It will not be profitable. Much more needs to be done. Such military policy has the logic of leading to WWIII. Maybe then it can destroy enough to get back to a long term profitability.

    “Obviously, Hitler and Tojo should not have been stopped.”

    As in all wars the U.S. was never concerned with democracy or the well being of people under those regimes. Witness the criminal complicity of the U.S. with Hitler’s final solution. It was just an opportunity to re-distribute who controlled what resources and markets. In this aspect of the war the U.S. was the biggest winner and Britain the greatest loser.

    This re-settling of the accounts between rival capitalist powers cost the lives of some 70 million people. It was not in the interest of any of the working classes of the belligerent countries to support it. We were too weak to stop it but it was correct for revolutionaries to oppose it. Our focus was to overturn the capitalist class in each of our countries.

    In the long run WWII did not settle anything.

    Les

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    anyone who turns a nut on a machine of war and is given bread for this labor ‘profits’ from war…the oxymoronic ‘capitalist worker’ cannot avoid his culpability by simply pointing fingers

    True enough, but normally when ‘profit’ is objected to the objection is to profiting at the expense of others, rather than just profiting in the more ordinary sense of earning a fair wage or gaining some sort of natural benefit. No rational person would object to workers being paid a fair wage or forced labor camp victims profiting by being liberated from servitude.

    That sort of profit cannot possibly be objected to. Therefore the profit we’re looking for has to be special extraordinary profit made by a nation or its leaders on behalf of which war would be waged – what should more properly be termed plunder.

    btw Dave – based on the parts of your stock portfolio that you have shared – you are profiting from war as we ‘speak’

    That I am, just like a GM worker who gets a salary for building hummers, but the issue here is not individual profits from labor or investment, but national plunder.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “As in all wars the U.S. was never concerned with democracy or the well being of people under those regimes.

    It was just an opportunity to re-distribute who controlled what resources and markets.”

    So, do you think communism is less so? Are capitalists some how less human, more flawed, than communists?

    In other words, if economic systems act to to preserve their economic hegemony, what’s different about communism that won’t result in the same kind of situation?

    Are human beings somehow less power hungry and greedy when governed by a communist system? Are those in charge in a communist system more pure in their motives than capitalists?

    What are the controls to prevent exploitation, enrichment of the few at the top, and curtailment of freedoms?

    The only societies we’ve seen so far in the world that were self-defined as “Communist,” failed miserably at all these things.

    Do you believe that human beings are basically good, Les?

  • Les Slater

    Clavos,

    Capitalism is a system in which its captains are neither able to predict or control. Even the transparency that they claim they want and need is inherently limited and inadequate. Its enterprises must hold their cards close to the chest.

    “So, do you think communism is less so?”

    All economic transactions and figures would be totally in the open. No individual or entity would need to suppress another to succeed. Production and research would be rationalized. All this would be open to discussion and democratic control. But that in itself is not communism or even socialism. It is the beginning foundation to move TOWARDS socialism.

    Are capitalists some how less human, more flawed, than communists?

    No.

    “Do you believe that human beings are basically good, Les?”

    Yes, not only good but with the capability to do enormous good.

    Les

  • Franco

    Christopher Rose…….sez

    MAD will always work because preparation for launch can be detected in real time and actual launches confirmed within seconds and retaliatory launches made immediately.

    Your own words confirm this “In other words, nuclear strikes are the end of the country hit.” That is the absolute essence of mutually assured destruction.

    If you paid attention to the real world rather than your increasingly fevered and paranoid interpretations of events, you’d know this inconvenient truth.

    It’s probably attitudes like yours that are fuelling Iran’s desire for weapons. I’d certainly want to be able to protect myself and my country against the possibility of attack if I was the leader of Iran.

    It would be the responsible thing to do, just in case the type of dire events you predict come to pass, to say nothing of the growing ring of Western bases that almost completely encircle Iran.

    Chris asserting that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is sound reasoning for peace through mutually assured destruction (MAD) is a fallacy for several reasons.

    First of all, the fact will always remain that less nuclear weapons, not more, is what the ME needs most of all.

    Second, MAD begs the question. Would Iran be deterred from actually launching a first strike from its own soil against Israel? Chris says yes it would, I say it dose not even apply and I assert that to think so, and use that at the basis for supporting nuclear weapons proliferation in the ME in not just simply naïve, it is one of the most uneducated and confused aruments on this important subject presented in this thread.

    The assertion that the theory of MAD, as it applied to Russia and the United States, is Western thinking and trying to apply this to the ME and its mindset is a fallacy.

    East / West Mentel Reasoning

    When comparing Russia and the United States nuclear weapons networks under MAD, they are not managed at the hands of persons ascribing to the principle religious concepts of martyrdom in being rewarded by God for attacking and killing off the enemies of God. Russia and the United States do not ascribe to this thinking and it is this fact that gives full measure to the deterrent from MAD. That can not be said for the leaders of Iran and you could never make a case otherwise.

    Setting aside the religious fanaticism of Iran’s mission from God), for MAD to even apply, each side has to have reasonably blanched weapons to offset the other. And as Chris mentioned, any attack by Iran on Israel would be considered an attack on the US. In the case of US virus’s Iran there will never be an equal comparison of weaponry. Iran will simply be gone. So Chris contradicts his own assertion for MAD with affirming this statement. This is not a logical argument.

    Geographical and Mathmatical Reasoning

    Additionally, MAD will not apply in the ME for very simple geographical and mathematical reasons, which lends further support to Ruvy’s assertions.

    ME nuclear warheads today can be delivered by cruse missiles at over mach 2.5 or 1800 MPH (3,333 km per hour). That delivery speed will increase as the years move on, but for now lets stick with todays mach 2.5 in this analisys. Mach 2.5 translates to 30 miles per second (56 km per second) and the missile can navigate at 30 feet off the ground (9 meters) transversing direction and course to simulate fighter jet avionics thus averting 100% confirmed detection as an incoming nuclear strike. Keep in mind we are only talking about cruse missiles as being one of many forms of delivery, but even so, it is more then enough to make the following points.

    A first strike launch from Iran would take over 30 minutes to reach Tel Aviv and would surly be picked up by Israeli defiance forces as Chris asserts. In Chris’s MAD theory it would have its place only in this highly limited and unlikely scenario.

    State actors and non-State actors

    Iran, a state actor, has proven their military willingness to attack Israel using non-state actors. Iran does not use its own state soil for a base in which to attack Israel. Iran’s uses Hezbollah and Hamas via Syrian assistance and this has been the clearly established pattern, and Iran and Syria continue to steadfastly deny this. Leaving Iran and Syria as proven lairs in the worst case scenarios.

    Syria, another state actor and Iran’s alley in Israel’s desired destruction, could launch a cruse missile that would take less then 10 seconds to reach Tel Aviv. Now again this scenario would be based on verifiable and decisively clear knowledge that the state of Syria actually carried out a lunch from their own soil, which again is highly unlikely. Additionally Syria too, would be gone from the face of the earth at the hands of far more weabons then it had, so once again under Chris MAD assertion, it’s moot.

    What is known is that both Iran and Syria do NOT in fact attack Israel from their own soil but instead both use non-state actors, i.e., via Hezbollah and Hamas or anyone else they could trust to carry it out for them and today both Iran and Syria continue to supply them with weapons technologies of ever increasing advanced IT sophistication. Today they don’t have nuclear warheads to supply them with. Chris assertion for Irans right to nucler weapons would change that.

    In addition, Syrian and Iranian support for radical Islamic terrorist training and assistance, they help promote an environment where terrorist elements flourish and do so when and where ever they can..

    One such spot is in Eastern Lebanon. Despite its military withdrawal from Lebanon, Syria continues to control the Bekaa Valley. Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Muslim fundamentalist militia, is the largest single militia in the Bekaa Valley. The largest city in the valley, Baalbeck is the headquarters of Hezbollah. Syria continues to support the Iranian government to re-supply these camps.

    More over, the Bekaa Valley serves as the epicenter for training the world’s most dangerous terrorists. The Bekaa is a one-stop shop for terrorist training. Terrorists from every corner of the international community come together in training camps to learn how to conduct lethal operations. Such groups as Al-Qaeda, Al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) Hamas, the Japanese Red Army, Abu Nidal’s organization, Force-17, New People’s Army (Phillipines), the IRA, Chechen Rebels, Fatah, the Red Brigade, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Medellin Drug Cartel were just some of the terrorist organizations who have received training in the Valley and continue to operate there.

    MAD and retalitory respones

    A cruse missile with a nuclear warhead launched from the Bekaa Valley would take less then 10 seconds to impact Tel Aviv. How does your assertion for MAD apply in this more likely event. How dose MAD play out in this lightning strike event, who is to be retaliated against for this act launched from the Bekaa Valley?. Which country is to be destroyed under the MAD deterrent? Would the world support a MAD full nuclear retaliation against Iran and or Syria immediately or would there have to be political restraint and dialogue first to test the nuclear radioactive footprint to see it was in fact Iranian, rather then North Korean or Chinese, or Packastan or Indian? Then what?

    Take it a step further. A cruse missile with a nuclear warhead launched from either Hezbollah bases in Southern Lebanon or from Hamas bases in the Gaza Strip would impact Tel Aviv in less the 6 seconds. Is MAD applicable? Is Southern Lebanon then nuked in retaliation in the following seconds, what about Gaza? What about all the other Arab Sharia Law States now armed under your scenario of MAD, what do they do?

    MAD simply dose apply and to assert otherwise is not only naïve but also dangerously obtuse. It mirrors back to you you’re own comment.

    If you paid attention to the real world rather than your increasingly fevered and paranoid interpretations of events you’d know this inconvenient truth.

    Your dismissal of these facts and asserting that Iran should have the right to nuclear weapons in stating…..

    pretty rational on their part to want to strengthen their negotiating position by building a stronger hand

    You’re whole analisys fails when faced with the more realist realities and once again mirrors back to your own statment.

    It’s probably attitudes like yours that are fuelling Iran’s desire for weapons.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, Dave, Dave. It was the fuckin’ war that was harmful. And the capitalists did profit from it. In other words war is profitable. It was MOSTLY profitable for the U.S. capitalists.

    So you’re saying that the outcome of the war was balanced in such a way that the US profited and the rest of the world was exploited? You think that the European countries and Japan which had a post war boom on US support were suffering? They sure looked like they were profiting to me.

    The truth you fail to get is that profit is not a one-sided thing, though that’s the big lie of communism. Profit is a partnership. Capitalism is built on the idea of MUTUAL profit, where all of the elements involved in the capitalist economy profit from interracting with each other, from those who provide the resources to those who manufacture them into finished products to those who transport them to those who sell them to those who consume and use them. And all along the way the worker profits from gainful employment.

    “What war do you think the US profited from, Les? Let’s see an example, because I’ve studied the history of our wars and we’ve taken huge losses as a nation on just about every one of them,…”

    So, you go from denying that the U.S. profited from the war to just claiming it was good.

    Profit IS good. But my point is that the US has not profited from war in a way any different than it would have profited without the war.

    No theory of economics has treated profits in the manner you attempt to foist here since before Adam Smith.

    Actually, my application of the ideas may be slightly different, but it can be traced directly to the work of David Ricardo. But read Milton Friedman sometime. You should start with Free to Choose which goes into the basic process of capitalism in its first chapter.

    He also cites as a great example an essay called “I, Pencil” by Leonard Read. You can read it online.

    Dave, you’re never going to be able to effectively defend capitalism if you don’t at least try to understand it. If you do understand it, stop pretending you don’t.

    I understand capitalism, but I choose not to accept the twisted misrepresenation of it which you choose to promote.

    Dave

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thanks for the backup, Franco….

    Just one little itty bitty pointer. The word Bekaa means valley in both Arabic and Hebrew. It would be more appropriate to refer to this particular part of Lebanon as “the Bekaa”, rather than “the Bekaa Valley”.

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    The essay by Read and its glowing endorsement by Friedman and Boudreaux is nothing but a sophomoric apology for the blindness of the free market.

    Read’s explanation of Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’ is thus, ‘Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me.’

    Yikes, a crude, not subtle, appeal to mysticism, in the explanation of the capitalist market.

    Les

  • Franco

    #41 — Les Slater

    Capitalism is a system in which its captains are neither able to predict or control. Even the transparency that they claim they want and need is inherently limited and inadequate. Its enterprises must hold their cards close to the chest.

    Its called competition Les, and it is one of nature’s most powerful driving forces, in fact it is at the very heart of all nature.

    In the human sphere it needs to be given rules (laws) for the game (competition between companies) and a playing field (democracy) in with to carry out the game.

    And yes for each game there will be a winner and a looser. But that is not the end of the line for either the winner or the looser. The winner enjoys the victory today and the looser goes back to the drawing board and sharpens up their game by studying their weakness and making the corrections. The bar of excellence is raised in the process, which benefits the fans (the marketplace). The one who lost today can win tomorrow. And the fans in the stadium (marketplace) get there moneys worth on both accounts in the process.

    Why are you so afraid of competition and having it set up with rules and a playing field in which to compete? Your talking negatively about this natural driving forces as is a system in which its captains are neither able to predict or control when in fact they do by given there all and find weakness in there team.

    You claim…... Even the transparency that they claim they want and need is inherently limited and inadequate.. Its enterprises must hold their cards close to the chest. Again, not so Les. Nobody on the other team gets to see my play book. Do your own homework my friend. You’ll see see my play book in action on game day.

    People grow from passionate and creative competition and the bar of excellance is rased in exaclly that process and the market place wins everytime.

    Now for profits that you tink is a dirty word. You’re statemtn that…..

    They were given jobs, and/or, got direct aid. A wage or dole is not profit.

    Les, where do you think the wage comes from?

  • Franco

    Your welcome Ruvy, and thanks for the regional term for “the Bekaa”.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Lots of instances of that, Ruvy. How about Mt. Kilimanjaro, when Kilima already means mountain in Swahili.

    dave

  • Franco

    The Obnoxious American…..sez

    However, the new NIE report, despite mainstream media gullibility, doesn’t really change the issues with Iran’s nuclear program, nor should it materially change the way the US and the international community deals with Iran. While the NIE has been portrayed as a huge blow to the credibility of the US and its intelligence community, the reality isn’t nearly as straightforward. Any lowering of our guard as a result of this information is at our own peril.

    Spoken for truth!

  • Zedd

    T O A

    Your article and the concerns about Iran would have some weight if a standard response was applied across the board to all who possess and showed signs of wanting to possess nuclear weapons. Until that day comes, any efforts at quailing the pursuit of nuclear capability of any nation are but a useless postponement of the inevitable.

    It is indeed useless for a nation with as much capability as ourselves to oversee processes which prevent others from gaining ANY capability what so ever. It is disingenuous, therefore we can not expect for there to be any RULES that are respectable to be in place. The entire matter is a farce and laughable. Ask any child on the play ground.

    We must be willing to take full ownership of our status as playground bully if we insist on taking the course that we are on. We cant seriously prevent others from pursuing their own interests while insisting that we are a freedom loving, benevolent giant. We must be clear on our objectives and be willing to take the criticism that comes with them AND be fully prepared to defend ourselves militarily. We cant force the non Western world to comply to our will and not expect them not to notice. The disingenuous nature of such a stance will (and has) render(ed) us a far greater target and will give off the impression that we disrespect the intellect and therefore the equality of non Westerners.

    You see they don’t see themselves as less.

  • Jacob

    “Would Iran be deterred from actually launching a first strike from its own soil against Israel?”

    Yes.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Jetfuel

    Ruvy #44, Dave #48:

    There’s a place in northern England called Pendle Hill, whose name has roots in three different languages: the Celtic ‘pen’ meaning ‘hill’, the old English ‘hyll’ meaning ‘hill’ and of course the modern English ‘hill’.

    So the name actually means ‘hill hill hill’!

  • http://pointlessannointed.blogspot.com/ Colin

    And our many River Avons are River River – Afon being the Welsh/Celtic for river…

    “What is this?”
    “It is a river/afon”
    “Then I shall call it River Avon.”

    F is pronounced as V in Welsh…

    I see Stan isn’t here, but I’ve heard that Kangaroo means, “I don’t understand what you are saying” in Aboriginal but that may be a myth.

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Alright, kids, lets get serious here. First of all, I covered this basic issue in an article over a year and a half ago (February 2006),dealing with a lecture by Dr. Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center of Bar Ilan University of Tel Aviv before the Root & Branch Association. In Dr. Inbar’s lecture, he covered only a threat from nuclear missiles from Iran. He was very careful in specifying this to us.

    But, as we saw in July 2006, and have continued to see since, this is not the only danger posed by rockets attacking this country. And because I actually live here, and am not an armchair speculator from abroad, these threats make a real difference to me.

    First of all, the attitude of lo norá (it’s not terrible), a general sense that all this is not a deadly threat and shouldn’t be taken seriously, continues to infect much of the populace here in spite of the fact that the whole northern third of the country, including, and most particularly the government fled mere Katyushas, rockets without guidance systems or explosives that would create massive explosions upon impact. That attitude could easily cripple any Israeli attempt at retaliation to the massive missile assault warned of by Israeli intelligence.

    Let us now consider the possibilities of missiles, projectiles with guidance systems, that are more deadly than the Qassam or the Katyusha, BUT WHICH ARE NOT NUCLEAR IN NATURE.

    The most basic kind of missile is the one that makes a big boom. It hits the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv, G-d forbid, and blows a good portion of it up. In addition to the explosion, you get fires which kill as they spread. If a gas station is hit or is enflamed, you get more casualties. And remember, the goal here is not merely to disable the enemy (Israel) infrastructure, it is also to kill Jews.

    The next kind of such missile is the dirty missile – the missile that has nuclear waste that contaminates without the massive explosions of nuclear fission or fusion. You stuff the missile with the waste, target it and fire. Such a missile does not explode in the sense normal sense, but upon impact, it contaminates the area around it. So nuclear wastes make a given area uninhabitable.

    The next level is the missile containing disease causing contaminants, like typhus or bubonic plague and others. Since folks are generally not inoculated against these diseases, they are a serious danger, and can kill thousands of people.

    Finally, we have the missile with poison gas. This missile explodes and releases, in addition to any explosives in it, a poison gas that kills upon contact.

    Syria has all of these missiles sitting in the Bekaa in Lebanon, where Saddam Hussein sent them before the Americans attacked in 2003. They were carried on truck at night, and to my knowledge, our air force has not raided any of the silos or storage areas in the Bekaa.

    In addition, there are missiles being smuggled into Gaza – not homemade rockets with no guidance systems, but missiles. Finally, there are long range non-nuclear missiles that Iran can fire at us. If the Americans strike back, what’s been lost? The Iranians are expecting an American strike of one kind or another anyway.

    Once the damage is done to us, the American and European regimes, who really want to control the whole region directly, benefit from not having to dirty their hands with murdering Jews and destroying the troublesome Israeli regime – and in addition, they have more than ample reason to attack Iran and to try to defang any threat it may represent, intimidate the Assad regime in Syria into submission and send an occupation force here to impose their diktát and settle everyone’s hash while they are still scared shitless from a missile assault.

    Now if I can see this so clearly, why is it so hard for any of you to envision? Are you so convinced of your own righteousness that your governments would never stoop to such an evil? If you are, you are sadly deluded, and you have forgotten quickly the horrors of war that Europeans and Americans have imposed upon the world in the last 75 years. The only thing that might stop the Americans from pulling off such a stunt is money, or rather the lack of it. But the Europeans are still flush wish cash, and can still invest in a solution that secures for them a steady flow of oil.

  • troll

    now – back off topic:

    a great idea and $5 gets a capitalist a nice latte – wages are not labor’s share of profit…that notion begs the question: why that share?

    Franco – the problem with your model of production based on competition is its inefficiency (note the ‘built-in’ feast or famine of its production cycle) – ‘losers’ are a waste and a drag on the economy not to mention being ethically problematic for ‘winners’

    ‘best results’ occur when individuals cooperate to achieve specific goals by each considering the interests of the others

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Syria has all of these missiles sitting in the Bekaa in Lebanon, where Saddam Hussein sent them before the Americans attacked in 2003. They were carried on truck at night, and to my knowledge, our air force has not raided any of the silos or storage areas in the Bekaa.

    Ruvy, you’re not allowed to mention that stockpile or more properly probably three stockpiles. Everyone here in the US will have to try even harder to pretend they don’t exist and some of them will probably hurt themselves by shutting down large portions of their brains to do so. Not that those people make much use of their brains in the first place.

    If I recall correctly Israel and the US have each made one semi-covert strike in that area, presumably at some of those WMD materials in the last year or maybe a bit more. No indication what the results were as far as I know.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    Do you still stand by that ‘I, Pencil’ crap?

    Les

  • Colin

    Time has run out for the scheming government of Iran and The Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Bush and the UN have had their chance to stop Iran’s Nuclear bomb plans. Now Israel is prepared for a surprise attack destroying all Iran’s nuclear facilities. They have had their own covert surveillance from Northern Iraq which has identified the Iran’s secret facilities not located by the nuclear inspectors. Due to the constructions of these sites they will probably use limited nuclear devices. Their will be no great back lash from Iran as this will be a very focused attack, but if there are retaliations, then Israel will return and devastate the country.
    Its time the world faced up to life. It may be alright turning a blind eye to an Africa leader that murders at will with bullets and machetes but doing the same to a leader with nuclear weapons and a stated policy to inflict fundamental Islam on the world, will instantly lead to all out nuclear war that will lead to the whole of civilization being destroyed

  • The Obnoxious American

    Zedd (#50),

    I am instituting a new program here at BlogCritics, where if a question is raised that is covered in the article, I will quote the article. So in reference to your point:

    “Your article and the concerns about Iran would have some weight if a standard response was applied across the board to all who possess and showed signs of wanting to possess nuclear weapons. Until that day comes, any efforts at quailing the pursuit of nuclear capability of any nation are but a useless postponement of the inevitable.”

    Here is what is written in the article:

    “Many will chastise me as they did before, for questioning Iran’s sovereign right to explore whatever technologies they choose, including nuclear ones. This point is magnified in the face of a nuclear Pakistan, Israel, and most (supposedly) hypocritical of all, the United States. While it may be fun to indulge in theory, I’d be a lot more comfortable if no one had nukes at all. But I’ll settle for at least ensuring any tyrannical regimes who support terrorism, who’s military is recognized as a terrorist group and actively kills American troops, and whose leader speaks of genocide, never gets their hands on a nuke.”

    Zedd, You should really give the article a read, it’s quite good if I do say so myself.

  • Les Slater

    Colin,

    So, with all the talk of the danger from ‘rogue’ states, it turns out that it will be Israel that actualy uses them?

    Fits nicely, the U.S., the only one to use them previously, on civillian targets no less, its PIG ally should be next.

    Les

  • The Obnoxious American

    Dr. Dreadful,

    Regarding #16, that’s not actually at the heart of my article. Further on, I write:

    “But I am willing to give the NIE the benefit of the doubt that Iran has halted an explicit effort to weaponize. Still, an Iranian government with Nuclear power of any kind can easily resume a weapons program at a time of their choice as nuclear energy generation and weaponization share many of the same disciplines. It’s like outlawing guns but allowing people to have black powder, pellets and steel tubing.”

    The underlying premise of the article, and also my main objection to the Iranian nuclear program, is entirely based on the reality that any nuclear technology is inherently dual use.

    As such, even if the NIE is right that the quest for nuclear weapons ended in 2003, it still shouldn’t change our position with regards to Iran.

    But to your specific point about El Baradei, let me remind you that this “nobel prize winner” (that he is a recipient of the nobel should be indictment enough) has missed the boat on several nations going nuclear, including Iran in the first place. That alone would qualify as bumbling considering that uncovering these things is his job. But what makes it even worse is his agency’s response to these countries after we learn of their efforts, which at the least is very lacking.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I never called Iran a PIG. Interesting how communism and pure hatred of free countries seem to go hand in hand. Is it me or have others noticed this too?

    Les, try walking a mile in another man’s moccosins’ in this case the Israelis. After being attacked by every neighboring country simply because you are there, and then seeing the international community sit on it’s thumbs in response to a nuclearizing Iran, who has given numerous speeches calling to “wipe Israel off the map,” I think you too might consider offense a good defense.

    Try reasoned responses, rather than simply reverting to name calling.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Troll,

    “wages are not labor’s share of profit…that notion begs the question: why that share?”

    Well naturally, the share is defined by the laborer’s ability to negotiate. His ability to negotiate is based on the supply of other laborer’s with the same skill set. If the skill in question is freely available, the wage will be lower, and vice versa. Capitalism.

    “‘best results’ occur when individuals cooperate to achieve specific goals by each considering the interests of the others”

    And when people all agree on what the specific goals are, then that will work. But in reality, motivating everyone to achieve the same goal by at the same time allowing people to achieve personal goals (i.e. cash payments) works fine, and works better than any communist theory.

    Bear in mind that there is a reason why every communism to date has failed, and why capitalism works. Because people are greedy and want what they want. Communism suppresses this, capitalism rewards this.

    Ugggh, I can’t believe I am actually arguing with communists. Grow up.

  • Les Slater

    The Obnoxious American

    “I never called Iran a PIG.”

    Actually, my statement should have read ‘PIG proxy’.

    “…the Israelis. After being attacked by every neighboring country simply because you are there…”.

    You gotta be kidin’. Israel is a colonial settler state. It isn’t simply there. They DROVE out its original inhabitants.

    Israel’s nuclear threats are no more than a cowardly means for the U.S. to let their proxy take the heat.

    It’s fitting, after all the talk of ‘rogue’ states, it’s the U.S.’s paw in the Middle East, that may be the next one to use nuclear weapons, the only one since the U.S. used them on civilian populations.

    “Interesting how communism and pure hatred of free countries seem to go hand in hand.”

    Population policies of Israel make it anything but a ‘free country’. The Zionists acknowledge that they must maintain a Jewish majority within its boundaries. That’s called Gerrymandering. In this case enforced by the full might of the Israeli state. ‘Free country’, my ass.

    Les

  • The Obnoxious American

    Les,

    See my article Peace in the Middle East, by way of Maryland for a full recount of my views on Israel, as well as the ensuing discussion which goes quite a ways into the history of what was there before. I simply don’t have the time to re-address the full scope of the ignorance you’ve put on display here. That Israel is a Jewish state does not make it any less free. But your relativism does make you less smart.

  • Les Slater

    The Obnoxious American

    “But your relativism does make you less smart.”

    I never said that you weren’t smart.

    “… I refuse to be ashamed of my country or its actions.”

    You’re a fool.

    Les

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The truth of the matter, kids, is that the issues of Israel and Iran are linked at the hip like Siamese twins, if only because the Islamic Republic is determined to get rid of this country.

    That’s unfortunate.

    But it’s true.

    And Obnoxious, what both you and Les don’t know about Israel could fill a rather large volume.

    It’s a thirty-five hour drive from here in Ma’ale Levona to Tehran, and an 18 hour drive from here to Baghdad. That’s mainly because there are no interstates and Hojos along the way. Several hours would be knocked off these times by some good roads and some truck stops and greasy spoons to go with them. So, this is not that big a place. But it ain’t one big happy family, either. The Persians are like the guys a few blocks away in the next neighborhood, while the Syrians, Jordanians and Lebanese are next door neighbors. The Iraqis are something in the middle.

    At present, the regime in Jerusalem is just a cat’s paw for its American masters – the American masters being the representatives of the oil and banking establishment. That is a painful truth that I live with – and will be forced to challenge in the near future, if I don’t want to have to string up wires outside of a tent to have an internet connection.

  • troll

    labor’s ability to ‘negotiate’ the capitalist’s share out of existence is limited only by government force of arms – the necessary function of centralizing resources and thereby allowing concentrated investment can be accomplished without an owner class and its State: it’s just another job

    …my experience of ordinary folks is that (for the most part) rather than being fundamentally greedy and competitive they behave cooperatively and generously – but in any case arguments based on appeals to human nature miss the point that everything changes

    btw – who’s going to absorb the refugees when Israel is forced into the sea and the entire area is left an uninhabitable wasteland – ?

  • Les Slater

    The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy states: “At present, the regime in Jerusalem is just a cat’s paw for its American masters…”

    Ruvy and I agree on this point. I also point out that this has been the case since the beginning.

    Now, think about it. Do you think that has anything to do with the love of Jews by the U.S. ruling class? Of course not, they hate the Jews.

    It has all to do with stabilizing the area so that the imperialists have access to oil. How do they stabilize the area? Keeping the heat off the reactionary Arab regimes by allowing them to blame Israel for all their problems. The Jews in Israel are just pawns.

    Les

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    btw – who’s going to absorb the refugees when Israel is forced into the sea and the entire area is left an uninhabitable wasteland?

    You man of little faith, troll. Do you think I would stay here at all if I thought I was going to have to swim in the Mediterranean 24/7? Aside from the obvious fact that I’d be forced to violate the Sabbath, it might get tiring.

    Alright, maybe I’m a deluded fool. But do you think I’d let my wife and kids stay here too? A deluded fool I might be, but an idiot I’m not. Do you realize how much she would scream at me if the Mediterranean was home – without one of Clavos’ yachts?

  • troll

    I just knew you’d say: “G-d !!” xxoo

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle


    Do you still stand by that ‘I, Pencil’ crap?

    Yes, Les. It remains a cute little essay for 10th graders on capitalism.

    Dave

  • The Obnoxious American

    Les,

    Apologies for questioning your intellect, but you did talk seriously about capitalism being bad while at the same time talking up more leftwards approaches. I just think people who preach the workers of the world stuff haven’t bothered to read history or to consider the true heart of man.

    I do agree that some of Israel’s benefactors are friends of convenience. But I think the Jews in Israel will take what they can get so long as it helps them get what they need. Living in the real world, there are times when this is necessary. Not shocking and not necessarily a bad thing. If done correctly.

    Troll,

    I agree that most folks are basically good and all that. But communism, or socialism or anything in between or a mixture of just won’t work. Not because I have no faith in man, but because men are not ants. They don’t all have the same view about what’s the right thing to do (just like here on BC). They don’t always want the same things. Honesty, cooperativeness, generosity and righteousness are not the opposite of being an individual by any stretch, and the good that this great (capitalist) country has accomplished in it’s short existence in history is proof to that fact.

  • Franco

    troll

    Franco – the problem with your model of production based on competition is its inefficiency (note the ‘built-in’ feast or famine of its production cycle) – ‘losers’ are a waste and a drag on the economy not to mention being ethically problematic for ‘winners’

    With all due respect my little guerilla jungle fighter, I don’t even understand that. I need you to reword it for me please.

  • Zedd

    T O A

    I read your point and actually thought that it was responsible of you to make that acknowledgement.

    HOWEVER, your awareness does not erase the ridiculousness of the situation. IT IS RIDICULOUS to expect compliance under these circumstances. It just simply is. There is no rationale that will ever make our expectations reasonable. It would appear that we are actually the most violent nation. It is we who have actually “set it off” and killed multitudes. With our history, should punitive and retaliatory actions be placed against us by the world?

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    To my question as to whether you still supported the ‘I, Pencil’ essay, you reply:

    “Yes, Les. It remains a cute little essay for 10th graders on capitalism.”

    Not a very strong endorsement, at least not as a serious explanation of any aspect of capitalism.

    I went back to your link to re-appraise both the Introduction by Friedman and the Afterward by Boudreaux. Neither even hints at the particular explanation, basing of Smith’s, the ‘Invisible Hand’, on God, might be problematic.

    Boudreaux actually said in his Afterward, “If I could choose one essay or book that everyone in the world would read, I would unhesitatingly choose “I, Pencil.” Doesn’t seem to limit it to “…a cute little essay for 10th graders on capitalism.”

    Boudreaux pontificates how one must think subtly and not simplistically. What a bunch of horseshit.

    One of their ilk gets caught peddling a religious tract (I, Pencil), within two hundred yards of a school, claims it’s a lesson on economics. Two fellow halfwits, Friedman and Boudreaux, have ready-made apologies for the tract. ‘You have to look at this subtly, you see.’ These clowns are not only morally bankrupt but intellectually bankrupt!

    If this is what the best of the best defenders of capitalism can do then we don’t have to worry about these ‘intellectuals’. We just have to make sure that 10th graders have the skill to think critically.

    Les

  • alessandro

    I like Les. He’s quite eloquent and engaging.

    But…

    I can’t believe people still admit in public they are communists. It’s like declaring VHS and Beta still matter. Sure, they do. If you own a VCR.

    The day I let my soul, sovereignty and identity be controlled by some bureaucratic moron with a sinister Lenin-pinch while smothered with intellectual ideals that have little value to the human spirit is the day I shall seek Moonraven and make love to her while holding a burrito.

    Hey, I’m disappointed in the BC Politics. Where’s the piece on Chavez’s loss? Anyone? Clavos?

  • Les Slater

    alessandro,

    “I can’t believe people still admit in public they are communists.”

    There’s not many of us. But the question we are discussing is not communism. It is the total bankruptcy of any attempt to rationalize capitalism as being progressive.

    “The day I let my soul, sovereignty and identity be controlled by…”

    Do you for a moment, believe, or even suspect, that I let my soul, sovereignty, or identity be controlled by anyone, past or present?

    Les

  • Les Slater

    alessandro,

    “Hey, I’m disappointed in the BC Politics. Where’s the piece on Chavez’s loss? Anyone?”

    It’s not a Chavez issue. The constitutional referendum was a test of strength, not primarily of Chavez, but the relationship of forces in general. In that nothing has changed. The struggle will go on.

    There is very little clarity of politics in Venezuela. Chavez does not put forward a program that can win. It is only the struggle ahead that has a chance to bring that political clarity.

    Les

  • Franco

    Les, are you now, or have you ever been a member of an entrepreneur or member of an entrepreneurial group?

  • troll

    Franco –

    Franco – the problem with your model of production based on competition is its inefficiency (note the ‘built-in’ feast or famine of its production cycle) – ‘losers’ are a waste and a drag on the economy not to mention being ethically problematic for ‘winners’

    With all due respect my little guerilla jungle fighter, I don’t even understand that. I need you to reword it for me please.

    1 – production based on competition is inefficient
    2 – overproduction and recession are not unfortunate side effects of capitalism – they are essential features
    3 – the poor (underemployed labor) represent wasted resources
    4 – the poor (underemployed labor) have to be fed
    5 – even the rich man understands that he is his brother’s keeper

  • troll

    (…actually #5 is up for debate)

  • Les Slater

    Franco,

    “…are you now, or have you ever been a member of an entrepreneur or member of an entrepreneurial group?”

    At least very close. A few times I was the first outsider to be hired to a senior position in a startup. Twice, the initial partners had to raise their salaries so they would be making more than I was demanding. I’ve been offered millions in startup capital to start a company. The family of one deceased CEO pleaded with me to take over the company. In one case I successfully organized a coup that replaced the president. I got one president fired. I’ve been the one who has forced reorganizations of departments.

    I’ve also been fired or forced out several times, even by CEOs that I still remain friends with.

    I’ve been there.

    Les

  • alessandro

    #78 – Well, it sure falls dangerously near the mark. All I know is how I’m affected by it. Capitalism ain’t perfect but it sure is more aligned with what I want out of life. Whatever changes that may come will take place within the bosom of capitalism – even if it gets redefined. In other words, capitalism with a conscience is already under way.

    Look, there is no doubt that if you’re on the wrong side of the capitalist equation it is very tough but at least you have a shot at it. I saw your description about your flirtation with entrepreneurship. Frankly, I’ve been screwed – and still paying for it but I’m slowly clawing my way back. I would not be accorded this opportunity under any other system. Socialism or whatever ‘ism’ would have coddled me and blunted my spirit.

    Give me ENTREPRENEURSHIP ANY DAY. You see, it’s not capitalism that is bankrupt. It’s any philosophy that attempts to claim that it is.

    Let me rephrase. I don’t consider your ideas to be dead. In fact, they should be incorporated into the capitalistic ethic where possible and necessary.

  • alessandro

    #79: Thank you Les for engaging me. Yes, but Chavez serves as the face of one side of that struggle. I see where you’re going with this but it should be accepted up to a point. Asking to have power for 50 years is still an attempt by him to have power. So it has to be seen, assuming this context is feasible, as a Chavez issue as well.

    He wanted to create a socialist paradise. Why? For altruism or hubris? Both? Qui bono?

  • Les Slater

    alessandro,

    “All I know is how I’m affected by it.” What? Communism? There is no such thing therefore you are not affected by it. We live under capitalism with all its complexities and distortions.

    “Capitalism ain’t perfect but it sure is more aligned with what I want out of life.”

    I suspect what you think is capitalism doesn’t exist either, just an idealized abstraction. As most acknowledge, what they actually see and experience is a far cry from whatever abstraction they hold dear.

    Les

  • alessandro

    I don’t look at things in the abstract as a way to progress. That’s intellectual exercise. I have to be practical and abstract at the same time. What are you talking about exactly? You don’t seem to want to attach a label (not that this is necessarily a bad thing)to your views so what do you advocate?

  • Les Slater

    alessandro,

    “I don’t look at things in the abstract as a way to progress.”

    I don’t mean to make the issue overly complicated. My point is that many describe capitalism as it should be, or at least, as they think it should be. Many rail about how far it is from what they think it should be. Many say it should revert back to before [insert favorite villain, policy and/or institution], before all went to hell in a hand basket.

    Many, and I am one of them, believe things are getting worse. Some are beginning to panic and move to the right, looking for simplistic answers and/or scapegoating sections of the population.

    The real question is: Can the capitalist system reverse this and move toward continuing progress?

    I think the only way this trend will be reversed is either we overthrow it, or after we are dragged into fascism and WWIII. I think the vast majority will be much better off with the former.

    This of course is a minority view. As things develop, more will find it is necessary to organize to take matters away from the ‘Invisible Hand’ that is so celebrated by the likes of Milton Friedman and his non-thinking robotic followers.

    Les

  • Alex

    And what do you think of the very popular view by a leading Israeli analyst Obadiah Shoher? He argues (here, for example, www. samsonblinded.org/blog/america-arranges-a-peace-deal-with-iran.htm ) that the Bush Administration made a deal with Iran: nuclear program in exchange for curtailing the Iranian support for Iraqi terrorists. His story seems plausible, isn’t it?

  • alessandro

    Les, replace it with what?

  • The Obnoxious American

    Zedd #75:

    It’s not ridiculous. What is ridiculous is a terrorist sponsoring nation, one that calls for the destruction of Israel, one that is actively killing American soldiers in Iraq (although less so now because of the surge), one that sits on top of generations worth of oil, needing to pursue nuclear technology despite clear objections from the international community.

    What is even more ridiculous is the apologists that question why the west would be concerned about such a thing.

    Zedd, this is a clear indulgence in moral relativism. Iran’s quest for nukes isn’t based in anything good. Not for Iran, not for it’s people, not for it’s standing in the world (the UN won’t treat it any worse if it has nukes or not) and certainly not for us. So why do they want them so bad?

    Is Iran’s quest for nukes done for the right reasons? No. Who are we to judge? The right people. Nukes are not like guns, individuals and even countries don’t have any god given right to own weapons that can destroy the entire planet. (and please don’t once again bring up the fact that the US has them because I will quote the article again and you don’t want me to do that).

    This isn’t about the academic question of national rights or sovereignty, it’s a real world question about living with a nuclear Iran.

    Do we all agree that nukes are bad? So why would be OK with even one more country going nuclear (and one that is despotic to boot)?

    Sometimes I think the only real objection apologists have to the U.S. position on Iran is that Bush thought of it.

  • Lumpy

    Les. What I don’t quite get is what it is that’s making people ‘deaperate’ and what trend it is u want to ‘reverse’. I can see some legit concern over post 9/11 expansion of government power, but communism sure doesn’t have the answer to that.

    If we weren’t in the middle of this economic expansion period I would think you had concerns for the economy, but the miracle of prosperity at every level of society despite deficit spending and the mortgage credit debacle is truly encouraging. The rising wages, growth in jobs, massive improvement in the balance of trade and increase in economic mobility are such great trends that thwy’re going to drag even the rust belt into prosperity.

    I think you may misundrstand why people around u are moving right. You thinl they’re scared. I’d guess they’re waking up from the long nightmare of corporatism and labor stagnation that began in the 70s.

  • Les Slater

    The Obnoxious American,

    “Sometimes I think the only real objection apologists have to the U.S. position on Iran is that Bush thought of it.”

    Remember Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953? It has been Britain’s and U.S.’s policy to not allow Iran to have an independent energy policy goin’ way back.

    “What is ridiculous is [Iran] that sits on top of generations worth of oil, needing to pursue nuclear technology despite clear objections from the international community.”

    That’s nothing but uninformed propaganda. Iran desires to substantially modernize its industry and infrastructure. There is a need in most of the undeveloped world to vastly expand their energy generating (electrical) capacity. This is also the case in many developed countries, including the U.S. Nuclear is the most economical and produces the least global ecological impact that we have before us currently.

    The big concern of the U.S., and other industrialized nations, is that some of them will develop and not only become more self sufficient, but no longer be a source of cheap labor, and/or a dumping ground for surplus commodities.

    Les

  • Franco

    troll, can we start by taking them one at a time?

    1 – production based on competition is inefficient

    troll, I see free market competition exactly the opposite as you do. I believe that companies that become insulated from competitive pressures grow inefficient.

    I believe it is free market competition that in fact makes things the most efficient they can possibly be. The same holds true for your favorite Soccer, Baseball, Football, or Basketball team. Those taking advantage of being most consistant in efficicnet use of the team in exicuting their skills wins most of the games.

    Please help me understand your assertion better by offering up some specific details in an arugment.

  • Franco

    Franco,

    Franco sez to Les……..”…are you now, or have you ever been a member of an entrepreneur or member of an entrepreneurial group?”

    Les sez……At least very close.

    I’m sorry Les, I do not understand this responce when you follow it up with everything else you say

    A few times I was the first outsider to be hired to a senior position in a startup.

    “A few times” means more then 2, it is usually 3 – 4 times.

    And what dose “first outsider” mean? Does it mean you were the first one to come on board in a senior position who did not invest your own money in the startup, or does it mean you did invest your own money but were not a member of some immediate family.

    Twice, the initial partners had to raise their salaries so they would be making more than I was demanding.

    I can’t understand if you’re saying that pissed you off, or if it made you happy that you were receiving and making what you demanded. Could you please help clear that up.

    I’ve been offered millions in startup capital to start a company. The family of one deceased CEO pleaded with me to take over the company.

    And you didn’t because…….?

    In one case I successfully organized a coup that replaced the president. I got one president fired. I’ve been the one who has forced reorganizations of departments.

    OK, you were a back room hatchet man and you forced someone out. Every large corporation has at least one. Extremely unpleased job if you’re not a sadist.

    I’ve also been fired or forced out several times, even by CEOs that I still remain friends with.

    “Several times” usually means 5 – 8 times. Fired is one thing, and forced out is yet another. Even thought the end results are the same, their cause for action are not. You don’t have to elaborate.

    All tolled, it would appear you have been involved in upper or senior management in about 10 companies.

    Nowhere have you mentioned preforming labor opperations in production or serveres. And nowhere do you mention once the true one and only real boss of every company, the customer, who pays all the bills the company has and always will or you go broke.

    In all this high flinging corporate savvy with millions of dollars being pushed in your face to provide a prodcut or serives to socitiy, I have not heard you speak once of the laborers or the customers. The two most important entiies of any company. Why?

  • Franco

    #78 —Les Slater

    There’s not many of us. But the question we are discussing is not communism. It is the total bankruptcy of any attempt to rationalize capitalism as being progressive.

    What is “progressive to you Les. Maybe this will help me better understand your persective.

  • Baronius

    Franco – Let me add something to your comment #94. There are two kinds of efficiency in markets, allocative and adaptive. Allocative efficiency refers to the proper distribution of resources at a given moment. In theory, a particular society may find the best allocation of recources without a market system. (I’d argue that medieval European society did a good job at it.) Adaptive efficiency is the capacity to change the distribution of resources correctly. A capitalist system is indisputably faster at adapting to changes.

    A great example of efficiency is 1980’s Japan. The government and large corporations decided that Japan’s future success would be in airplanes and banking. If they’d been right, that would have been great adaptive efficiency, but of course they were completely wrong. They overplanned for those industries, and left electronics unregulated. Manufacturers of computers and cameras were able to allocate their resources without government interference, and cleaned up.

    Anyway, I’ve heard people argue that a regulated market can allocate resources more efficiently. I’ve never seen it, but it’s possible. It’d have to be a very static economy, though.

  • Les Slater

    Franco,

    “’A few times’ means more then 2, it is usually 3 – 4 times.”

    Actually, just 2.

    “And what dose ‘first outsider’ mean?”

    I was the first one to come on board in a senior position who did not invest any money in the startup.

    —“Twice, the initial partners had to raise their salaries so they would be making more than I was demanding.”

    “I can’t understand if you’re saying that pissed you off, or if it made you happy that you were receiving and making what you demanded.”

    The latter.

    —“I’ve been offered millions in startup capital to start a company. The family of one deceased CEO pleaded with me to take over the company.”

    “And you didn’t because…….?”

    I don’t remember what the offer was but it was way too low to successfully enter the market.

    —“In one case I successfully organized a coup that replaced the president.”

    The coup plot was discovered and we were told to cease and desist. He then hired a consultant team and who reported there was no problem with management structure. He subsequently kicked himself upstairs and put in the person that I recommended as president.

    —“I got one president fired.”

    That was not intentional. I was hired for one project that was one of a kind. He wanted to make a scaled down version of the product to sell in quantity. I argued the market was already too crowded. I was overruled and it turned out to be a disaster. He was fired.

    “All tolled, it would appear you have been involved in upper or senior management in about 10 companies.”

    Not senior management. Chief engineer would be more accurate.

    “Nowhere have you mentioned preforming labor opperations in production or serveres.”

    No, but I did perform labor. Design does not come out of thin air.

    “And nowhere do you mention once the true one and only real boss of every company, the customer…”

    The first job, not mentioned previously, where I got much of my experience, the government was the customer, specifically the FAA. I was part of a design team that came up with the late ‘60s era national flight control system. I worked at Raytheon.

    Several jobs were designing advanced graphic display terminals and controllers. These were expensive items and were sold to industry, universities and government.

    In one company I was part of a team of three, VP of engineering, head software guru and me. The product only had two customers, Yale University Nuclear Instrumentation Labs and the Central Intelligence Agency.

    One company, the one with the ultimately successful coup, the product was cash registers for the fast food industry, McD, BK, Wendy’s etc.

    Also worked for one of the biggest suppliers of analog modems. The customers numbered in the millions. Designing to keep costs very low while producing a product that worked reliably was one most interesting and challenging endeavors.

    Also worked for the likes of IBM, DEC and GE.

    “In all this high flinging corporate savvy with millions of dollars being pushed in your face to provide a prodcut or serives to socitiy, I have not heard you speak once of the laborers or the customers. The two most important entiies of any company. Why?”

    Production was quite often very small. I did work closely with the production workers, test department workers and sometimes sales force. I got to know some of the production workers in one company fairly well. We dropped acid together and I’m still in contact with a couple.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    One I forgot to answer.

    …”The family of one deceased CEO pleaded with me to take over the company.”

    I had no experience running a company and did not want to learn at the expense of this family.

  • Zedd

    T O A

    You do know that to millions those terrorists are liberators. The conclusions about the topic that we are discussing are subject to ones perspective. You seem to be stating things as if there are universal principles that support the our position. We could very well be charged with the murders of many of the worlds inhabitants through direct or indirect influence. You know this.

    U.S. soldiers are not getting killed because of Iran and you know that. They are being killed because we invaded Iraq, Iran’s neighbor. We would be engaged if our enemy attacked Mexico. Actually we would be openly engaged. Somehow we expect Iran to sit by as we blatantly push to make our presence known in that region. WHO WOULD BE OKAY WITH THAT SCENERIO?

    … So we conclude that what Iran is doing makes sense. It is reasonable, rational and expected. In other words, we went in knowing what Iran would do (or we should have).

    Israel has been jerk-some. They have been a bad neighbor. They are a nuisance to people of that region. You know this as well. Is anyone surprised that they would not be wanted around? Again a sane reaction on the part of Iran.

    O A I am not saying that we want more nukes. I am saying that it is UNREASONABLE to expect that other nations wont pursue nuclear capability. That is simply ridiculous.

    Also no one is wearing the white hat therefore no one gets to tisk tisk at anyone. We are not the good guys OA.

  • Les Slater

    “You do know that to millions those terrorists are liberators.”

    May be, but there are NO liberators in Iraq.

  • alessandro

    “production based on competition is inefficient”

    Who said that? Come….on. I’ve heard and read tenuous comments in my life but this…this is priceless. I need an explanation.

    #97 – Very interesting Baronius. “Anyway, I’ve heard people argue that a regulated market can allocate resources more efficiently. I’ve never seen it, but it’s possible. It’d have to be a very static economy, though.” Agree.

    Regulation is not meant to be efficient and nor should it be its primary goal. To regulate suggests “equalizing” or maintaining some fair level playing field. The minute you interfere with a process you compromise efficiency. Just look at a corporation that throws all sorts of time consuming and wasteful bureaucratic red tape for whatever reasons: in the end productivity suffers. I saw this when I worked in the financial field.

    Zedd, they are terrorists. Plain and simple. The question is: they are seen as “liberators” to who and why exactly? What has it gotten anyone? A BIG FAT ZERO.

    They are nothing but murderous spoilers with bankrupted ideas. They seek power on the backs of the weak. The sooner we can get this in our thick skulls the quicker we can quell it. Iran and Iraq are the thugs in the region as well as Syria. Don’t just single out Israel. That’s plain inaccurate, selective and misuse of facts.

    Iran needing nuclear energy is not a problem per se. The problem is that fanatics want to use it. I’d trust it more if it was a different government in place. Iran does not need defending; they are not innocent.

    Man, my mother bakes a mean sfogliatelle. I’m eating it as I write.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    To go waaay back:

    Hey, I’m disappointed in the BC Politics. Where’s the piece on Chavez’s loss? Anyone? Clavos?

    There’s a story when Chavez is threatening dictatorship. When his threats fall short and things go well in Venezuela the story isn’t as interesting, except maybe for his promises to attempt another referendum, but that’s hardly surprising or enough of a story to stand on its own.

    Dave

  • Zedd

    Les

    You said: May be, but there are NO liberators in Iraq.

    Would you also be referring to the U.S. as well?

    If we apply the same statement to the American presence in Iraq then my point becomes even more relevant. There are no good guys.

  • troll

    Franco and alessandro – an overly simplified example to illustrate my use of ‘inefficient':

    two brothers have a dry field – there’s a reservoir a mile away – but no ditch to carry to carry to water

    would it be more efficient for them to pair up and work together digging the ditch or to make a race of it and each dig his own – ?….(and just to make it interesting the winner of the game gets the field and all of its produce)

    the wasteful choice is made repeatedly in more complex interactions throughout our competitive economy

    what we ‘should’ be competing with is suffering and need – that alone would motivate ‘progress’

  • Les Slater

    Zedd,

    “Would you also be referring to the U.S. as well?”

    Of course, and especially.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    It’s important that the various bands of thugs operating in Iraq not be called liberators.

    Whatever Iran may be doing in Iraq may be understood from their perspective, but again, they are not liberators. It is however the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. to be complaining about Iranian intervention.

  • troll

    …the US has fallen for its own line: ‘you break it – you own it’

  • Zedd

    alessandro

    What has the U.S. intervention all over the world gotten anyone? We have armed and supported the most heinous of regimes all over the globe. What has THAT gotten anyone?

    You see we are not the good guys. We just know how to spin. Simple.

    Those terrorists exists because of us. Our intervention and manipulation of the politics and economic balance through our cowboys and Indians poison has rendered a lot of the world unable to reach their good ambitions. Off course people will get angry and yes they will want to retaliate. Their wanting to do so is reasonable and rational.

    Again, my point is not that terrorists are good. It is that we can not conduct ourselves in the manner that we do and NOT expect reprisal. If we are set on the course that we have paved for ourselves, let us approach the consequences with sobriety instead of playing good guy or victim. We should acknowledge that we are culpable and much of the disdain that is felt toward us is earned AND if we were on the receiving end of our initiatives, we would be far more punitive.

    This we know sir.

  • Zedd

    Les

    I certainly do not see the actions of any of the invaders of Iraq as liberating.

    It is however important to note that what the terrorists are doing is what we are doing there. They are attempting to prevent a force that they perceive as dangerous from settling in that region. They are trying to gain influence over that nation. In implementing their plans, they are succeeding in a further destabilization of that nation, just as we have.

  • Les Slater

    Zedd,

    “It is however important to note that what the terrorists are doing is what we are doing there. They are attempting to prevent a force that they perceive as dangerous from settling in that region. They are trying to gain influence over that nation. In implementing their plans, they are succeeding in a further destabilization of that nation, just as we have.”

    First, I must protest the use of the word ‘we’. Those that have sent troops there are but a very small minority of the most notorious thugs that have EVER existed on this planet. And those troops are not OUR troops. They are IMPERIALIST troops.

    The other thing is how you look at ‘stability’. The U.S. forces ARE seeking stability, and the various gangs of thugs are increasingly cooperating. This trend will continue. A big part of this is ethnic cleansing which the U.S. is complicit with.

    Les

  • Clavos

    “What has the U.S. intervention all over the world gotten anyone?”

    Therefore, we should leave (among others) the Sudan and its problems in the Darfur region alone, letting them work it out without US intervention.

    I agree.

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    I would suggest that just because one strategy has not worked that it doesn’t mean that viable solutions should not be explored, especially when extreme human suffering is involved.

    I will assume that you concur.

  • Zedd

    Les

    Is this double speak? “The U.S. forces ARE seeking stability, and the various gangs of thugs are increasingly cooperating. This trend will continue. A big part of this is ethnic cleansing which the U.S. is complicit with.”

  • Les Slater

    “Is this double speak?”

    Not at all. It is the reality. What part(s) don’t you agree with, or think are in contradiction to one another?

  • Clavos

    “I would suggest that just because one strategy has not worked that it doesn’t mean that viable solutions should not be explored, especially when extreme human suffering is involved.

    I will assume that you concur.”

    I do, as long as said “viable solutions” do not include US intervention; since, as you have pointed out, US intervention all over the world is not desirable.

    So let someone else handle it, without US participation.

  • Les Slater

    Zedd, Clavos,

    If the U.S. did indeed, end its intervention ALL over the world, much good would begin to be accomplished, including a resolution of the problems in Darfur.

    Les

  • Clavos

    “If the U.S. did indeed, end its intervention ALL over the world, much good would begin to be accomplished”

    Except pf course, for the US, which would inevitably be overcome by the movements and forces aligned against US worldwide.

    But, most of the world would rejoice at that.

    At least, initially.

  • alessandro

    #117 – “If the U.S. did indeed, end its intervention ALL over the world, much good would begin to be accomplished, including a resolution of the problems in Darfur.”

    No one calculates the good. Reminds me of that scene in the ‘Life of Brian’ when the zealots was it? who asked what have the Romans ever did for them. The libertarian in me says interventionism is never good of any kind is good. Yet, people here probably have no problem with government intervention on the domestic front. The question is whether there is ever “good” interventionism.

    #103 Dave – Yeah but…what about teasing Moonraven?

    #105: Troll, we don’t know. It can be better if they go off on their own: it’s called innovation. However, if they pair up that’s a partnership and can still be productive, and innovative. i.e capitalistic. I see what you’re saying but not fully. Obviously, working together but who says capitalism doesn’t cooperate? Either way, as long as no third wheel do-gooder gets in the way it’s all good. I don’t see capitalism as being bankrupt to the point as mentioned here. It ain’t perfect and it seems to be running away from democratic principles but hardly a reason to “blow it up.”

    #109: Hello Zedd, I would not conclude this so easily but yes it is possible that actions always lead to a consequence. “Again, my point is not that terrorists are good. It is that we can not conduct ourselves in the manner that we do and NOT expect reprisal.” I can’t say this is a bad statement but on the other hand welcome to the world of international relations. This can be applied to all countries.

  • Les Slater

    A side note on the state of finance capital these days:

    The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank have pledged lots of money to banks at no specified minimum interest rate. Trash is accepted as collateral.

    The Bank of Japan has pledged to cooperate.

  • Franco

    Les,

    Thank you for elaborating. You have been part of some very interesting work.

    Look Les, I like capitalism and I am trying to understand why you don’t. Now I am not talking about big shot CEO getting 50 million-dollar parachutes. I know that is an extreme example but you get my point. I think that kind of pay gives corporations a bad name.

    But well over half of the companies is the US today is considered to be small business. Another 30 percent are mid sized with the balance making up the big corps. Now, I am small business. I have worked for several companies over the years and I now work for myself.

    Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs and account for nearly half of America’s overall employment. They play a vital role in helping add millions of new jobs. Small businesses are also vital for supporting local, national, and international communities.

    Women own more than a quarter of all businesses, and the number of women-owned businesses is growing. Hispanic Americans are opening their own businesses at a rate three times the national average.

    The free market is responsive and it offers such an endless array of interests in what ever one could imagine and each offers opportunities. The market place is where you can take your work efforts and sell your product.

  • Franco

    #105 — troll

    two brothers have a dry field – there’s a reservoir a mile away – but no ditch to carry to carry to water

    would it be more efficient for them to pair up and work together digging the ditch or to make a race of it and each dig his own?

    In your example troll, the two brothers already have the dry field together and so working together is rational.

    (and just to make it interesting the winner of the game gets the field and all of its produce)

    That is a completely diffract set of circumstances and becomes a fallacy in comparing to two because this would not apply to the two brothers because the two brothers already both own the dry field.

    Troll, I need for you to give me a real world example. If what you say about compitition being inefficient has substandces to study, then you surly can show a real world example with out the fallacy. I’m not doubting your sincere assertion, but the example you offer is a fallacy.

    Here is something that happened to me. I purchased an acre of land here in Chile in an newly developed industrial park where several people were buying the newly leved arres. I needed to put up a fence all around it and so did those who purchased around me. I made a deal with the owner behind me, and the one on my left and on my right, and we agreed to the kind of fence we wanted and we all splint the cost. Even if long term maintenance for the fences is not shared equally and I have to do it because I like things wording well, I still saved 50% of the installation costs. I’m happier then shit.

    But in my example there is no other condition about who wins my property for putting up the fence fasted as in your example.

    Give me a real-time real-world example without the fallacy condition so I can understand.

  • Franco

    #97 – Baronius

    Allocative efficiency for allocation of recources without a market system

    Like the Utility companies that provide services to homes and business?

    Adaptive efficiency is the capacity to change the distribution of resources correctly.

    Like manufacturing, marketing, sales, wholesale distrabution, transportation, retail? (Chain of distribution)

  • alessandro

    Franco: You go girl!

  • Les Slater

    Franco,

    “You have been part of some very interesting work.”

    A lot more interesting than I’ve been able to relate in a few paragraphs. I’ve been very fortunate. There’s been a lot of luck but much of it because I aggressively went after it.

    “I like capitalism and I am trying to understand why you don’t.”

    I still marvel at what capitalism can do some times, even now in the midst of some of its most corrosive tendencies. Capitalism did have its glory days, and its glory moments, to ignore them would leave you dull and without any sense of what humanity can accomplish.

    I am presently reading ‘City of the Century- the Epic of Chicago and the Making of America’ by Donald L. Miller. I’m in the middle of the story of Armour and Swift and the development of the meat packing industry. How could anyone not marvel? Even with its brutal exploitation of workers, the industry represented an enormous positive development for society, progress. The story goes through the late 19th century. I do not believe that capitalism’s ability to productively organize labor has been subsequently surpassed, or even maintained that level.

    I consider 1898 the year that capitalism shifted from industrial to financial. The likes of Armour and Swift did want to make money, and they did, plenty of it. But they also had a vision, from the start, of society’s needs. That is what they primarily addressed with their ambitions. The separation of the two was inconceivable.

    Today some industries start this way, but sooner or later, serve only the interests of maintaining profits, at the general impediment of progress. Microsoft is a good example of this. I jokingly say that their main poduct is the increasing of entropy.

    The biggest problem is that finance capital is quite removed from any connection with progress. They use armies to threaten, or even attack, their competitors or keep their markets and sources of raw materials to their advantage. This has historically lead to trade wars and then shooting wars which at times result in conflagrations. Some capitalist win, others lose. Out of it though, capitalism recovers to go through the cycle again. Meanwhile enormous human suffering and death.

    The stage of world capitalism now has more similarities to the ‘30s than other periods. It is in a severe, and increasing, crisis. On this post we are, more or less calmly, discussing the use of nuclear weapons, either by, or against Iran. These things are more openly justified by the defenders of capitalism.

    Les

  • alessandro

    Capitalism can possibly use some “cleansing.” There’s certainly much that has been written and said about this. I’d rather work with the system to fix it than go against it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The biggest problem is that finance capital is quite removed from any connection with progress. They use armies to threaten, or even attack, their competitors or keep their markets and sources of raw materials to their advantage.

    I think the idea that this is caused by the capitalists is a stretch, as is the idea that this is anything new. Cornelius Vanderbilt bombarded Managua with the cannon on his private warship in the 1850s.

    It’s all about getting fair access to markets and resources. No one likes to be arbitrarily denied opportunity.

    This has historically lead to trade wars and then shooting wars which at times result in conflagrations. Some capitalist win, others lose. Out of it though, capitalism recovers to go through the cycle again. Meanwhile enormous human suffering and death.

    In the very short run. In the long run the result when the international capitalists win is the modernization of economies, growth of opportunities, increased wages, better quality of life and ultimately prosperity. South Korea started as a western ‘project’ state and went through a rough period of war and chaos, but 40 years later it was a model of modernization and economic success and a power in the world.

    Dave

  • STM

    The whole of the British Empire was about opening trade opportunities, even in the lost American colonies before the British really had a concept that what they were heading towards was empire. Their main interest was always trade, not glory.

    They weren’t perfect by a long shot, and we all know that. And to describe the British as anything but a war-like race would be wrong in the extreme. They caused plenty of bloodshed and misery in their quest to turn a profit.

    However, upon the dismantling of that empire, in an age of ne whope, what was left (mostly) were stable and prosperous societies. And the foundation of the freedoms upon which they were built came from out and out capitalism.

    One of those, Malaysia, is a beacon for how an islamic state can function (despite some hiccoughs) and it has one of the world’s highest standards of living – forget about just in Asia.

    Others, including the one I live in, and despite the many ills we’d like to see addressed, shine as a light of hope in a world of darkness.

    How is America any different, really? Americans may kid themselves that their corporate machinations don’t constitute empire, but they’d be wrong. It doesn’t fly the Stars and Stripes at every far-flung outpost of its empire, but America is as imperialist as its English-speaking predecessors of the two centuries before.

    There’s a corporate HQ of just about every major US company flying the flag of American capitalism on every far-flung continent.

    Americans would also be kidding themselves to believe they aren’t as war-like or as arrogant – in a different way – as their British cousins. But let’s hope that the legacy America leaves in this sometimes ill-conceived and misbegotten adventure is at least a measure of stability and prosperity – not just for America, BTW, but for the nations it has conquered.

    Conquered. Tough word to hear, that, if you’re American, but it’s true. There are ways to conquer and ways to conquer, but the outcome is always the same.

    Hamburger imperialism is imperialism nevertheless. Freedom is a McDonald’s on every second street corner, if you susbcribe to the American ethos of empire.

    In the case of the anglo nations, though, it’s always tempered by the hope and the belief that what it replaces is something better than went before.

    Let’s not collapse on the fallback position that America and its “cronies” are responsible for all the world’s ills. They are responsible for the least of them even if they ARE responsible for some of them.

    Tell me with a serious face that an American-backed regime in Iraq is worse than a regime that thought it OK to put people feet first into paper shredders, remembering that it’s not Americans who are blowing up their own people in market places.

    However, in exporting our shared belief in “democracy” (in the modern sense), it’s important to remember that our brand of democracy isn’t always what people want or need.

    And Iran, a democracy, whether we like it or not, is a classic case in point.

    Talking might be the best option right now. Gunboat diplomacy didn’t work a century ago, and it doesn’t work now.

  • Les Slater

    I’m surprised nobody commented on my #120. This is serious folks!

  • troll

    Franco – my comment concerned the inefficiency of production based on competition not how ‘rational’ it is for co-owners to work together

    alessandro – it’s a canard that innovation requires competition

  • alessandro

    Troll: Oh really? It’s a duck eh? How so? I’m stunned at such an assertion. It goes against….aw forget it. Of course, it depends what type of innovation we’re speaking – I’m assuming product/economic? And there are many lenses to look at this from but competition and curiosity my friend is what makes us humans tick and advance.

    #128: STM, you go girl.

    #120 – Les, I don’t know if you mean they are using this as a means to smooth interest rates or you see something more sinister at work?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    There’s nothing more sinister, after all, than banks lending money to other banks. The BASTARDS!

    Dave

  • Franco

    #130 — troll

    Franco – my comment concerned the inefficiency of production based on competition

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one troll. As alessandro puts it, it,s what makes us humans tick and advance.

    When a company is operating in the competitive free market place, is it a selfish greedy isolated and inefficient island all to itself? That is impossible because each individual company has to purchase materials or services from other companies who are competing for their business too. The outside services each company uses from other companies competing for its business must also offer highly efficient products and or services to get this business.

    The average small business uses the outside services of more then 20 other companies to run efficiently. Out of those 20 there are many more competing to become one of the chosen 20 who service a company. A company is going to choose the most efficient outside provider in can to meet its needs. Remember too that the 20 companies selected as outside service providers, each also has 20 companies servicing each of them and so it goes. 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 etc.

    Now if one of the 20 companies on the select list of suppliers grows inefficient and a bit indifferent to it customers needs resulting from the fact that they themselves have no direct competition in which to loose your business, then you suffers this indifferance which is an inefficient drag on your company. If it’s a critical drag of your overall efficiency and you can not find a local competitor to switch to, you may have to invest the money to incorporate that outside service inside your company yourself.

    If you want to be successfully in a free and competitive market place with your product or service you have to be highly efficient managing that product or service in every step of the process because your competitors are doing the same thing.

    You have to get the very maximum of products produced out of every piece of raw material. Your products must be transported to market in the most efficient and cost effective way you can, and you have to be able to handle returns and or replacements efficiently on your products should they be found defective.

    If your fail to compete efficiently at any step it all comes out of your ass, not the states. For those who fear competition, I can see why they do not like this system. The majority of the American people are not afraid to compete.

    Competition is keen and it is the driving forces that you must yourself display and prove to your customers that they will increase their own chances for success in using your product or service, and when they trust you with that import service, then you must shut up and prove it to them.

    This is neither rocket science nor a diploma hanging on the wall. If you want to be successful in free market economics (capitalism) and have more business then you ever wanted then get in your customers’ face and efficiently service them to death. I guarantee they will positively respond.

    A centrally planed state economy and market place will NEVER generate that kind of drive for efficiency. Look at he US Postal service, one of the governments most efficiently run enterprise and compare it to FedEx and their competitor DHL. They both run circles around the Post Office even though the Post Office has learned from them and tries to compete with them, thy can not reach that lever of efficiency, and you don’t see FedEx and DHL employees shooting each other.

    You mentioned overproduction and recession are not unfortunate side effects of capitalism – they are essential features

    Yes they are, but your only looking at the negative of this event, thus seeing the glass of water half-empty. The pendulum always swings back into growth. Nothing is a constant in business, or the weather, or life itself, and that is how it is, how it should be, and it is where competition excels.

    Additionally, under a socialist state plane economy and market place the same would apply but even much worse as the incentive to be efficient becomes flaccid when someone else is footing the bill like the state.

  • STM

    Yeah, geez, they’ve never done it before … why start now. Oh, wait …

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    “There’s nothing more sinister, after all, than banks lending money to other banks.”

    There is a concern that the ‘liquidity’ crisis may also be an insolvency crisis. Nobody knows how much bank’s assets are really worth. The reason is that some assets are not trading at all (hense no MARKET value) because everyone is worried that they will be holding the bag when these assets are valued much lower than they are on the books for.

    Banks have been reluctant to go to the fed to borrow funds for fear that it will be seen that they are in trouble. This just continues the liquidity crisis.

    What the fed, in conjunction with much of the West’s central banks, are doing is to pledge funds that can be drawn on, TOTALLY ANONOMOUSLY, while using assets that have NO MARKET VALUE as COLLATERAL.

    The fed is preaching transparency while cloaking who might be insolvent while bailing them out. Loaning with NO REAL COLLATERAL is in reality just pumping money into an institution that is broke.

    It is part of the privatization of profits while socializing losses.

    Dave, you of all people, as a libertarian, ought to be ashamed of yourself for supporting such a scheme.

    Les

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Les, as a libertarian I’m all for banks managing their money as they see fit. This isn’t a case of government forcing the international banks to back up the regional banks, it’s entirely voluntary. And if you think it’s just some goofy scheme to give away money, that seems pretty unrealistic. Banks don’t do things out of pure altruism.

    As for collateral, what about all that property that banks loaned money on? It’s pretty damned real.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    “As for collateral, what about all that property that banks loaned money on? It’s pretty damned real.”

    Have you been paying any attention to economic news of late? That ‘real’ real estate, is falling in value. An investment grade loan assumes a revenue stream from the borrower at an expected rate. The ones that bought these debt obligations are finding out that they have been sliced and diced and otherwise disguised to make them appear much more sound than they ever were.

    The value of this paper, in reality, depended on the real estate bubble continuing to inflate. That was quite foolish and many bankers have been caught with their pants down.

    No, those inflated property values were never real.

  • Les Slater

    “This isn’t a case of government forcing the international banks to back up the regional banks…”

    Correct, it is more like the banks forcing the government to back THEM up. If the fed action undermines the currency then it will oblige the treasury to print more money. Ultimately it is the government subsidizing the banks.

    “…it’s entirely voluntary.”

    No, it’s been enormous pressure by the markets not to let the current liquidity crisis grow into a full blown monetary crisis and a collapse of the economy.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Pressure from ‘markets’ amounts to everyone in the financial community agreeing that it’s a good idea.

    As for the declining value of that property, do the math.

    If someone buys a $150K house on credit and makes payments for a typical period of about 2 years with a 30 year note, even if the terms aren’t rapacious, they’ve already paid about $20K in interest. Values haven’t dropped more than about 10% nationwide, so if the houses are foreclosed on, they still retain more than enough value to make up the loan amount with the interest included.

    And if the loan is front-loaded or includes PMI or the buyers were paying on two loans with an 80/20 then the banks got even more money out of the deal over and above whatever they can sell the house for.

    Now I realize the Austin area isn’t typical, but around here, as fast as houses are getting foreclosed on they’re getting resold for about the same price as they sold for originally sometimes even a little more. So the banks pocket all the interest, plus the value of the resale.

    For the loan crisis to be a real crisis we’d need to have a lot of property standing empty for a prolonged period and basically unsellable. In most of the country that’s not the case, in fact new construction is still going on.

    Dave

  • troll

    please explain the efficiency of the destruction of commodities (and the value [derived from labor] embedded in them) to maintain price

    please explain the efficiency (and the ‘half full’ nature) of the overproduction of labor its associated recession

    Franco – it is not surprising that you see the existing relations as based on eternal fundamental psychological laws…you are quite literally living the bourgeois dream as is evidenced even in your chosen proof structure:

    you assume as axiomatic and timeless what is to be demonstrated and then spend your time explaining how the ‘real world’ proves your point – contradictions therefore are explained away as necessary

    and a dream it is

    what you neglect is the fact that everything has a history – nothing never changes

    there is cause for hope that the suffering required by today’s capitalism is not a necessary condition of human existence

    …I understand that you don’t ‘grok’ my meaning – so I suggest that you write me off as crazy

  • troll

    [over production of labor and its associated recession]

  • Silver Surfer

    Les writes: “Have you been paying any attention to economic news of late? That ‘real’ real estate, is falling in value”.

    The thing is Les, in Oz, and I assume the story is the same in America, if you hang on to your place and keep paying the mortgage the price eventually goes up as real-estate prices always move in an up-down cycle. However, the slight downward cycle never quite wipes out the upward cycle, so you just don’t lose – provided of course that you don’t sell. The equity in the home increases, and in America you are lucky enough to have low interst rates (ours are now 8 per cent) and can write off your interest as a tax deduction (we can’t).

    Not that much different to the stock market, but with less greed involved as for the average punter, the prime motivation for investing in bricks and mortar is simply having a place to call your own. Of course with stocks ans shares, if you don’t sell, you don’t lose. Same with housing.

    The problems only arise when the buyer can’t keep paying the mortgage at the agreed rate. Yet it’s amazing how flexible the banks and the non-bank lenders are when it comes to renegotiating the loan or allowing for deferment of payment in genuine circumstances.

    Beacuse in the long run, no one wants to lose, and no one really wants to put anyone out on ths street if there’s another way round it.

    This is just another piece of wall st bullshit that is easily solvable with a (little) bit of government help. When you think about the military budget of the US, the amount needed is dead-set fucking peanuts.

    And as for the falling dollar: an overinflated currency once again created by greed on Wall St. The fall in the dollar takes it to just about where should have been these past 10 years, and is the (minor) correction we all had to have.

    Of course, I’m happy as the $A is now at near paritywith the greenack, which gives me great rates when I’m travelling. Selfish, maybe, but now all you bastards know exactly how it feels – especially when you travel to Europe :)

  • troll

    Franco – I’m sitting in the middle of a snow storm and you’ve worked hard trying to communicate…so you deserve a story:

    in my wayward youth I spent some time as a systems analyst ‘gunslinger’…one assignment that I took on was a job for Bell Labs designing training for them

    the problem that they faced was in their old long lines system which had been pieced together as needed by brilliant engineers based on nonstandard uses of equipment which by the time I came along had begun to fail with increasing frequency due to basic wear and tear

    what the labs wanted was a program to teach employees how to repair the equipment when it broke down

    naturally a big part of my job depended on interviewing ‘subject matter experts’ – the (by then quite old) guys who put the system together in the first place – and one question that I wanted to learn the answer to was why these bright people hadn’t documented the process in the first place…

    this question usually elicited sheepish looks and tales of ‘those heady days building the system’ before there were standards for documentation and when they ‘had to make whatever they had on hand work’ etc etc

    until one day I was sitting with three different broken pieces of long lines each of which seemed to have served the same function in the system (which function was not implied as a use in the specs for any of them) – and one of those old geezers…whose response to my question was that he had ‘kept his notes to himself ‘ to ensure his position as a well paid priest in the temple

    the implication of these interviews was clear and I reported to my project manager that the cost effective approach would be to replace they system…naturally they shot the messenger – but a couple of years and a bunch of bucks later Ma Bell agreed

    get it – ?

  • Les Slater

    Silver Surfer,

    “…the slight downward cycle never quite wipes out the upward cycle, so you just don’t lose – provided of course that you don’t sell. The equity in the home increases…”

    “…the prime motivation for investing in bricks and mortar is simply having a place to call your own. Of course with stocks ans shares, if you don’t sell, you don’t lose. Same with housing.”

    So it might seem. I’ve been around for a long time. I do see how this is evolving. I REMEMBER back in 1948 when a common worker would be able to buy a house. The price of a modest house might be two years wage of the one worker in the household. Taxes were low and savings were high. After saving for the down payment one could get a 20 year mortgage at a 6% interest. The payment amounted to under 14% of HIS wage.

    Now, let’s get into some more modern times. A family has a total income of $40K manages to get a home for 200K and 100% finance it for 30 years at 6%. Their payments would amount to 36% of their gross income and typical real estate taxes another 13% for a total of 49%.

    This trend turns home ‘ownership’ into slavery to the banks.

    Les

  • Les Slater

    troll,

    “…he had ‘kept his notes to himself ‘ to ensure his position as a well paid priest in the temple.”

    I found this true of the majority of the electronics engineering profession. They, of course, were a ‘highly educated’ priesthood. It turned out that much of the mumbo jumbo was nothing more than obscufation.

    This had a number of interesting effects. Of course, one was to maintain the priesthood, and their ‘worth’. Another was to make it difficult for them to design things, especially if the new deviated much from incremental enhancements. Finally it limited the pool of those that could apply their intelligence to the problem.

    Les

  • troll

    Les – I found the same to be true of many of the ‘subject matter experts’ that I dealt with not only those engineers – frequently at no small expense to the business or go’ment agency that employed them

    …but one can hardly blame them for acting in their own best interest I guess

  • Les Slater

    troll,

    “Finally it limit[s] the pool of those that could apply their intelligence to the problem.”

    This is an enormous efficiency issue. Intellectual efficiency. Productivity. The human spirit itself.

    There are in so many fields where an individual has such a stature no one dare think critically of what he pontificates. A good example in this thread is Milton Friedman boosting the absolutely ridiculous (except maybe as a cute trick to blind gullible 10th graders), ‘I, Pencil’. A fuckin’ Nobel Prize winner in ECONOMICS, no less! Sheesh!

    This is just an example of the mediocrity that so many have sunk to. People are not used to thinking critically. The priesthood, those that society ordains, those that relegate the rest to sheep.

    Les

  • bliffle

    troll:

    “…why these bright people hadn’t documented the process in the first place…”

    That’s easy. Because management kept demanding they fix problems and meet unrealistic schedules rather than wasting time documenting. Nobody reads those documents anyhow, they’re always out-of-date and don’t correspond to current conditions. You were probably the first person to express interest.

  • alessandro

    Les, #144 interesting. Taxes have indeed increased but that’s a result of government interventionism. Yes, from what I read economic times back then seemed more fluid however on the other hand our standard of living is unquestionably higher and unemployment is lower. Yin and Yang dude, yin and yang.