Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cato Stands Up For Itself

In this semi-amusing, mostly serious rant against accusations that it has been too soft on the war in Iraq. Also- good to see Cato saying "Good riddance!" to Glenn Reynolds.

Whither Ron Paul?

I know Kucinich is crazy, but sometimes it takes a crazy man to do the right thing. I'm amazed it took this long for a Dem- any Dem- to grow a spine and realize that things like this were why they won the House last year- not SCHIP, not card check ballots for labor unions, and certainly not higher taxes. Instead they've largely chosen to ignore the fact that more Americans want to see Bush/Cheney impeached than ever wanted to see Clinton impeached. But where does Ron Paul, bane of Executive Power, stand on this? And yes, it makes my skin crawl that I'm agreeing with Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jim Moran (my former scumbag of a Congressman) on this.

Teddy Roosevelt on Torture

When Bush and Cheney run into opposition on issues of executive abuse of power and especially waterboarding from that weak-willed anti-authoritarian, anti-imperialist President Theodore Rex (enough sarcasm for ya?), you would think conservatives would finally acknowledge that maybe waterboarding is going a bit too far.

**UPDATE- My original post incorrectly suggested that Second Hand Conjecture was a conservative and was trivializing the debate. I misread the post at Second Hand Conjecture, which was in fact taking a much more nuanced view. Additionally, as Lance points out, he is not a conservative. I apologize for the error, and plea guilty by reason of fatigue brought about by posting at 2:30 in the morning after sleeping for exactly 3 hours before waking up to catch an early flight.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop her!

Michelle Malkin is currently leading this contest for best blog of 2007. Please try to help out her competition. For the record, the anti-Malkin, Andrew Sullivan, is currently in 2nd (hint, hint).

**UPDATE, 11/6/2007** Okay, crisis averted. "PostSecret"- which I've never heard of and which has seemingly nothing to do about politics- has now come out of nowhere to build an insurmountable lead. HuffPost has taken a slight lead over Malkin, and Sully has fallen way behind.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church, the Common Law, and the Limits of Free Speech

So, one of the relatively few truly despicable groups of people in the world now has to pay millions- far beyond its assets- as restitution for one of its "God Hates Fags" protests of a military funeral. I hope this doesn't destroy my libertarian street cred too much, but I'm not exactly getting ready to burn the courthouse down over this one.

Actually, I don't think this case implicated freedom of speech all that much to begin with. The primary claims in the case were for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). For the privacy claim, the issue is highly factual, and I don't think the media provides enough facts to make a truly worthwhile evaluation of the claim; in other words, I think you have to trust the jury's fact-finding that this was an invasion of privacy implicating no free speech rights.

But the IIED claim clearly implicates no free speech rights in my view. IIED is an intentional tort that primarily evolved through the common law- it is not a result, by and large, of legislative action and findings, especially in Maryland if I remember correctly. The common law will rarely implicate free speech because it develops on a case by case basis; moreover, common law rules are usually highly fact-dependent, involving consideration of the entire circumstances surrounding the case. In other words, common law rules are usually trustworthy because they avoid one-size-fits-all prior restraints.

Just as important is the fact that the golden rule of libertarianism is that a person should be allowed to do just about anything, as long as they are doing no harm to others. Well, the central point of IIED is that the conduct in question actually causes harm to others. For those without a legal background, to be found liable for IIED, a person must meet several factors- (1) Intentional or reckless conduct, that is (2) extreme or outrageous, (3) resulting in (4) severe emotional distress. Usually, the emotional distress must be so severe as to be medically diagnosable. However, the more extreme and intentional the conduct the smaller the amount of distress required for liability. Either way the central point of the claim is that the defendant intended to cause real harm to the plaintiff. Actions of any stripe that are intended to cause actual harm to another person are actions that libertarians usually find appropriate for punishment.

In this case, I don't think there's any question that protesting the funeral of a private (as opposed to a public) person while also attacking the deceased's character is "extreme or outrageous." There is also little doubt that only a complete moron would think such conduct would be unlikely to cause severe harm to the family of the deceased. In other words- the Phelpses knew or should have known that their conduct was extremely likely to cause very real injury to the soldier's family, and yet engaged in the conduct anyways. Intentional infliction of physical harm implicates no free speech concerns in my view.

This isn't to say that the Westboro Baptist Church is forbidden from running around claiming that soldiers are getting killed because "God hates fags." Instead, it is to say that they are going beyond the realm of speech when they do so within the context of a funeral where grieving friends and family members are present. It's not quite yelling "fire" in a crowded theater- but it's close.

Why Telecom Immunity Is a Bad Idea

Today's Wall Street Journal features a column by several former Attorneys General arguing for immunity for the telecoms for their role in the Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The Attorneys General argue that immunity is necessary because of a need to encourage private cooperation with the government on national security matters- even if the program in question was unconstitutional. Their argument hinges on this paragraph:

Whether the government has acted properly is a different question from whether a private person has acted properly in responding to the government's call for help. From its earliest days, the common law recognized that when a public official calls on a citizen to help protect the community in an emergency, the person has a duty to help and should be immune from being hauled into court unless it was clear beyond doubt that the public official was acting illegally. Because a private person cannot have all the information necessary to assess the propriety of the government's actions, he must be able to rely on official assurances about need and legality. Immunity is designed to avoid the burden of protracted litigation, because the prospect of such litigation itself is enough to deter citizens from providing critically needed assistance.

There are, however, several major flaws in this argument.

1. They seem to make a misstatement (or at least I hope it's a misstatement) in saying that "when a public official calls on a citizen to help protect the community in an emergency, the person has a duty to help." The use of the word "duty" is troubling to me- it implies not only a moral, but also a legal obligation to do whatever the government asks if there is an emergency, unless the person knows to an absolute certainty that an official is lying or just wrong. This is a recipe for totalitarianism; I can only hope and assume that the use of the word "duty" was just a poor word choice.

2. They argue that immunity was granted at common law in situations like this, and therefore the legislature is correct in creating additional statutory immunity. Problem is, Congress has already passed a statute (18 USC 2511) dealing with telecom immunity in this specific situation, ie, national security wiretapping. Immunity is allowed under this statute- but only if the administration issues appropriate certification or a warrant. The telecoms are massive companies with armies of lawyers- to argue that they were somehow unaware of the requirement for certification is, to say the least, disingenuous. Moreover, if the government failed to provide appropriate certification, that would suggest a pretty strong inference of bad faith action by the government (and thus by the telecoms). (For the record, it's worth noting that there is a good possibility that appropriate certification was issued- but this would obviate any need for additional immunity). By passing additional immunity for this specific instance, Congress is doing something perilously close to a bill of attainder; moreover, it is essentially making the relevant provisions of FISA totally worthless.

3. If the lawsuits were to be successful, but Congress still felt that the telecoms acted in good faith, then Congress could simply vote to indemnify the telecoms for their actions. In essence, the federal government would be admitting primary liability for the telecoms' actions. On the other hand, if there would be a finding of bad faith action by the telecoms, any prior grant of immunity would in effect rob victims of those bad faith actions of just restitution.

4. If the concern is that allowing the suits to move forward will have a chilling effect on future cooperation with government national security investigations, there is a simple fix: amend the existing statute for future actions. But, this should not be retroactive- as I pointed out above, the telecoms were well aware of the requirements for immunity; if they chose to disregard those requirements, then they knew the risk involved. Moreover, there is increasing evidence, as I argued here, that the program began at a time when no emergency existed. If true, this would negate any claim that the telecoms' actions were justified regardless of the statutory immunity requirements due to the existence of an imminent threat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Which of our Global Wars Is More Important?

The War on Drugs or the (legitimate part of the) War on Terror? This recent post at Back Talk suggests that the Administration has placed the War on Drugs ahead of the War on Terror in Afghanistan. That sounds about right.

Of course, they'll tell you that in this case the two are intrinsically linked- by fighting the War on Drugs, they'll say, we're depriving the Taliban of their funding and thus fighting the War on Terror. But, as usual with the War on Drugs, this argument fails Econ 101. For the millionth time: drugs (especially opiates) have inelastic demand; this means that the more you restrict supply, the higher prices go- but with almost no effect on demand. When you have higher prices combined with high demand, you have what might be called a lucrative business opportunity. By fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan, all you are doing is increasing the profitability of the opium trade; since the Taliban appears to be getting more and more into that trade, you can pretty much rest assured that the reason they are doing so is because of the high profitability brought about by the War on Drugs. Moreover, the Taliban are already fighting a war to begin with, so fear of drug enforcement officers isn't exactly going to affect their willingness to engage in the opium trade (meaning that, over time, the Taliban will gain an increasing market share of the opium trade- not a good thing).

I know, I know, unintended consequences are a bitch.

(Hat Tip: To The People)

Zakaria Gets His Talking Points From PE

...Ok, maybe not. But in this debate with NPod, Fareed Zakaria sounds an awful lot like I did in my posts here, and here. The transcript of the debate is worth reading, but the thrust of Zakaria's argument is that Iran has, for the last 25 years, shown no signs of acting counter to their rational interest, and is in no way, shape, or form crazier than Kim Jong Il or Mao Tse-Tung. Zakaria's best line? " When the Iranians elected a moderate, a man called Khatami, as the president, conservatives kept telling us the president has no powers....Now they elect Ahmadinejad, and they say he's got his finger on the button."

NPod responds with the tired old Neville Chamberlain/Hitler comparison, and the newer, but still tired, argument that Iran is more irrational than Jong Il and Mao because it is motivated by religious fervor (of course, our own President's religious zeal is irrelevant). NPod so understands the degree to which Zakaria is winning the debate that he tries to cut Zakaria and Woodruff off on at least 6 occasions. Realizing he can't win on an appeal to logos, NPod makes repeated appeals to fear and pathos, including the closing line of "God help us if we follow that counsel." And the Iranians are the ones who are irrational?

Anyhow, George Ajjan had an excellent post earlier this month on this issue that provides far better information than even the Zakaria discussion (based on information from someone who, I don't know, actually lives in Iran) here.

The key information from Ajjan's source:

The President in Iran does not have the authority to declare war nor does he control the regular Army or the Revolutionary Guards. There may be individuals or groups in both that support him but that does not mean that he commands a major allegiance which would allow him to use the military for his own purposes. Also, the Supreme Leader has used reshuffles in the IRGC and the Army to ensure that people do not remain long enough to establish power bases or to establish alliances with other political actors.One interesting thing that most people don't know is that the President in Iran doesn't even control the police forces, since the national chief of police is appointed by the Supreme Leader and the law enforcement forces broadly answer to him. This was one of the things that [former President Mohamed] Khatami was trying to change, i.e. to get the police to be accountable to the Interior Ministry rather than to the General Staff of the Armed Forces.To Question 1:There has been no indication whatsoever that Supreme Leader Khamenei wants to go to war with Israel. In fact, just a few days after Ahmadinejad first made his remarks about Israel in 2005, Khamenei gathered the main actors of the regime and made a very public speech in which he stated that:
1. Iran's policy vis-à-vis Israel has not changed (i.e. Iran continues to oppose the "oppression of the Palestinian people" and support their demands for their own rights)

2. Iran would "never carry out aggressive acts against any country". Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Leader's comments, which carry much more weight in policy matters in Iran, where not widely reported by the international media.

Why the neocons insist on ignoring Khamenei and instead choose to demonstrate fear of Ahmadinejad is beyond me. It's as if they don't realize that doing this just makes Ahmadinejad relevant on an international scale even though he is on the verge of irrelevance within his own country.

Ron Silver's Incoherent Rant

This has got to be one of the most incoherent rants I've ever read in my life. I honestly have no idea who holds the positions he is attacking here- for example, he includes financial aid and international programs for Palestinians as "isolationist." Apparently, "isolationist" now just means "anyone who is not a neo-con." If he's attacking the Ron Paul/Old Right position of non-interventionism, then he's making no sense (since Ron Paul would not support international aid to anyone and since non-interventionism is anything but cultural relativism). If he's attacking the "Hollywood liberal" position, then who in Hollywood is advocating non-intervention in Darfur and Africa? Who in Hollywood is opposed to "nation-building," which was the brainchild of their beloved Bill Clinton? I mean, I'm all in favor of getting into debates that you can't lose- but it's not very worthwhile if you're not actually debating a real person.

I'm left totally confused by this one- I would love to know who he is attacking. Moreover, I love how he assumes that there's only one possible result of each of the straw-men positions he is attacking. You have to love it when people just refuse to ask the questions "Why?" and "How?"

Most importantly of all, though- Ron Silver is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations? Really? When did this happen? Does being a porn king in a short-lived TV knockoff of Romeo & Juliet now qualify one for joining the CFR? What about being a real-life porn king- can Larry Flynt become a member of the CFR?

Yes, there is a crisis

Atrios claims that not only is there no Social Security crisis (something I'm inclined to agree with, if only on linguistic grounds), but that:

"[H]aving [Obama] suggest that Social Security is a problem which needs to be dealt with by any serious candidate is like the bat signal for people like me. There is no problem with Social Security. None at all. Whatever broader fiscal time bombs exist have absolutely nothing to do with Social Security."

This "ostrich-neck syndrome" when it comes to New Deal and Great Society programs on the left is the equivalent of the Right's "ostrich-neck syndrome" when it comes to the War on Drugs. It shows a fundamentally gawdawful understanding of simple economics. The argument that Social Security faces no fundamental problems amounts to an argument that you can take a system designed for people living for x years after they retire (and which is theoretically funded by the salaries those people made), and maintain it when those people are, on average, living x+y years after they retire. Simple common sense, logic, etc., will tell you that this is impossible.

Moreover, we already have a pretty good example of a similar system collapsing under its own weight. At this point, it's pretty well understood that one of the biggest reasons Detroit is becoming increasingly less competitive in the global auto industry is its pension plan system, which creates an additional $1500 (I've actually seen this number a bit higher from other sources) in overhead for every car produced. I've seen the Left complain increasingly about "disappearing pensions" in the private sector more generally; unfortunately, the belief is usually that these plans are disappearing because of theft and greed. Unfortunately, it's emotionally easier to blame theft and greed rather than deal with the simpler, Ocham's razor explanation: just as you can't consume more than you produce, you can't take out more than you put in.

Of course, the retort is simply going to be "well, raise taxes to pay for the increased costs," as if you can raise taxes ad infinitum without ever having a negative effect on the economy as a whole. We can disagree about the point at which that negative effect will begin, but the fact is that simply raising taxes does nothing to solve the underlying problem, which means that you will have to continue to raise taxes every so often as people continue to live longer and longer. Eventually- whether 10, 25, 50, 100, or 200 years from now- you will get to a point where you can't increase taxes any more.

Religious Political Correctness

Things like this always amuse me:

"[True conservatives] unashamedly love their country and have reached the point of no return with regard to political correctness and pandering politicians..."

Followed by- in the very next sentence:

"[True conservatives] have a deep and abiding belief in God. A belief that is under a daily, escalating and obscene assault from those on the left who only use the word “Christian” as an insult, a punch line, or as an identifier to be added to a blacklist to deny employment at most schools, colleges, newspapers, and television networks. [The Republican nominee] needs to understand that this is a belief that must be acknowledged, respected, and defended."

So, I guess this means some forms of political correctness are more equal than others, right?

On unintended consequences

Thomas Sowell's column today does a great job of illustrating the law of unintended consequences. His argument is definitely an oversimplification (you can't blame the wildfires entirely or even mostly on open space laws, for instance) but it still does a pretty good job of showing the inability of government to know everything or foresee all the consequences of its actions. A better understanding in government that you can never know all the consequences of a policy and that every policy has tradeoffs would at the very least, create a bit more humility in the government (and a little less hubris).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Ron Paul's Spending Record As Good As Advertised?

The Club for Growth says no. They still give him overall high marks, but there are some definite red flags in this report, and some that aren't. I identified 9 areas of criticism in the Club for Growth's report:
1. Line-item veto. Given the current expansion in Executive Power under the Bush Administration, I think Paul's opposition to any line-item veto legislation is more than justified, constitutional or not; frankly, my position on the line-item veto has changed over the years, and I now firmly believe that the separation of powers concerns far outweigh any improvement in fiscal restraint.
2. Federally-mandated election reform; the vote was to increase funding for the Help America Vote Act, specifically for updated election equipment. Given that federal elections are conducted locally, their importance, and the need for reliable results, this is probably as constitutionally appropriate an area of funding as you're going to get.
3. Paul's sudden drop from 100% in 2006 on designated pork barrel votes to 29% in 2007. This number, in and of itself is quite disturbing. (More on this point below).
4. Newfound sponsorship of earmarks, along with a statement of essentially, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." This is frankly inexcusable, since that is the logic of virtually every pro-pork congressman, and any Paul supporter needs to question their candidate's commitment to his stated ideals if he is willing to start backing earmarks as soon as he starts running for President.
5. Opposition to trade agreements. This is something that Paul is pretty open about, and I understand his position. I just disagree with it- the goal of free trade is global free trade, and it's tough to get other countries to eliminate their restrictions on free trade without working with them through agreements. Frankly, this is clearly an area where even I think government has an important role to play.
6. Paul's impractical opposition to "reforms" of broken systems. Sometimes, "reforms" are worse than the broken system they're trying to fix. Admittedly, Paul's absolutism about just immediately eliminating programs is impractical, but at least it's intellectually honest. Club for Growth's mild rebuke on this issue is still, I think, legitimate.
7. I disagree with the mild rebuke on Paul's approval for negotiation of pricing on Medicare drugs. This won't lead to "de facto" price controls, as the article suggests, since the drug companies would still be free to charge whatever they wish to non-government entities (who, I might add, would be able to negotiate their own pricing structure). If government should be run like a business (and it should), then permitting it to negotiate pricing is part of the deal.
8. School vouchers. Paul's support of credits as opposed to vouchers (which he correctly points out will increase government's role in private schools) is perfectly consistent with small government principles. Indeed, as Cato Fellow (and old acquaintance of mine) Adam Schaeffer has argued, credits are the more practical approach to school choice both legally and politically, and are likely to be just as effective. Club for Growth's characterization that Paul's support of credits over vouchers places him with the Dems and NEA in opposing reform is seriously misplaced and out of line.
9. Tort reform. While I generally agree with the principles behind Paul's opposition to most tort reform (and thus disagree with Club for Growth's position on most tort reform), Club for Growth's very muted criticism is fair and appropriate.

As I suggested above, Paul's sudden embrace of earmarks and sudden approval of pork projects in the last few months is troubling indeed for anyone who views him as an icon of consistency and intellectual honesty. I took a look at each earmark that was the subject of the Club for Growth's study, and there is little doubt that, in each case, the earmark is the very definition of "pork." It does appear that for several of the votes, Paul was simply not present in Congress, and was likely on the campaign trail so you can't read that as support of the pork (though some would make a legitimate argument that being on the campaign trail during a vote raises other question marks). Still, the votes that Club for Growth selected for inclusion in its rankings seem to be a fair choice- the pork at issue in each selection is very, very clearly pork. Ron Paul's sudden votes against the anti-pork amendments (especially beginning in July) are extraordinarily puzzling.

What is most puzzling about these votes is that they serve no apparent political purpose, so you can't say that he's just trying to curry votes for the primaries (although that is the only legitimate inference given the sudden shift from absolute opposition to general acceptance). Essentially, I just don't see how voting for a few small pork barrel projects in other people's districts is going to noticeably increase your support (especially in the primaries) in those areas. Did Paul cut some sort of a deal with some of the Democrats?

In all, these questions aren't enough to get me to stop backing Paul, but it sure as hell makes McCain and Thompson look more and more palatable- and Obama even more so (since he has the best shot of stopping Hillary without managing to be as scary as Hillary).

When Krugman Starts Making Sense To a Libertarian

.....You know the world is completely upside down. In today's Times, the bane of lovers of free markets questions why, exactly, we should fear Iran. Money quote:

Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would
be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some
perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of
Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as

This line of questioning is closely related to the fifth of my recent questions for neo-cons and theo-cons, to wit:

Why would it ever be rational for Iran to try to nuke us (or provide a terrorist
with a nuke) if it is a virtual guarantee that we will always have way more
nukes? In other words, if a nuclear attack on Israel or the US would result in
the complete obliteration of Iran, why would Iran ever attempt such an attack?
If, in fact, they are developing nukes, isn't it more logical that they are
developing those nukes purely as an attempt to get leverage against us (and
prevent us from attacking them)? If you agree that it is irrational for Iran to
attack us, but believe that Ahmadinejad is irrational (because he wants to bring
about the Apocalypse), do you realize that Ahmadinejad has very limited power in
Iran's theocracy?

Of course, the fear is frequently cited as being more one of Iran giving terrorists a "suitcase nuke" that would then be exploded in the middle of Manhattan. Presumably, in this scenario, Iran would do so with the irrational expectation that we wouldn't find out it was they who supplied the suitcase nuke. The other problem with this scenario, though, is that the concept of a "suitcase nuke" being used by terrorists is far-fetched, at best (at least at current technology levels). Moreover, for Iran to develop an effective "suitcase" nuke would require a level of investment far beyond Iran's capability (you know, the whole GDP of Connecticut thing), and even farther beyond the capability of an independent terrorist organization. As for the so-called "dirty bomb" scenario, well, you don't need a nuclear program to achieve that end- you just need access to a modern hospital.

The other line of argument is often that Iran would have no qualms about taking out Israel. This line of argument also fails, though. First, while I tend to support much of our support of Israel, the fact is that we aren't Israel, and if any other country knows how to take care of itself militarily, it's the Israelis. Second, at this point nuking Israel would probably be about as rational as nuking the US itself- to think at this point that the US wouldn't respond to a nuclear attack against Israel with a nuclear attack of its own would be silliness beyond even the capability of Ahmadinejad (who, again, isn't as powerful within Iran as the neo-cons would have us believe anyways).

In actuality, we know that Ahmadinejad is quite unpopular in Iran, primarily because he has caused an economic disaster and has undone much of the social progress Iran had been making before he was elected . The thing is, the more we rattle our saber at him, the more opportunities he has to say that he is standing up against imperial aggression, and the more Iranians are able to get distracted from the domestic mess he has created. Moreover, our saber-rattling doesn't exactly help the image of America as bully, meaning the developing world is driven more and more into the Chavez/Ahmadinejad camp.

Alas, the fear-mongering will continue because, as Orwell wrote:

"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. "

I hope this destroys any illusions about single-payer

This morning, the blogosphere is abuzz about a report that tens of thousands of Brits who are fleeing the UK's socialized health system because of wait times, quality, etc.

Now, I have said before, here and here, amongst other places, the US healthcare system has deep flaws of its own, resulting in costs that are way out of whack. Additionally, there are relatively few advocates of a true single-payer system in the US- with even Hillary backing away from single-payer, the debate is now centered primarily on different ways of implementing universal coverage more generally (thankfully, most of the approaches at least pay lip service to being "market based"). Nonetheless, I would hope this report is a death knell to the arguments advanced by Michael Moore and others (and believed by those deceived by "Sicko") that socialized medicine works.

Still, a proponent of single payer can legitimately make the argument that the report only tells one side of the story, that it represents a relatively small portion of the Brit system, etc. However, even more telling to me than the report itself is this online discussion of the report. I find the discussion more telling because it reflects the actual opinion of a fairly good cross-section (it seems) of Brits (and expat Brits) about the overall state of the British system. You will notice a near-universal dissatisfaction with the system- these are not the "happy patients" you will see in "Sicko." One other thing you will notice is that there is not a single person suggesting that the system is underfunded (unless you include those complaining about the failure of poor immigrants to pay into the system).

One of the more illustrative quotes about the downside of socialized medicines (and really, socialized anything) comes from someone trying to defend the British system:

People who go abroad are playing into the hands of those who want to see
private health care. It's like people who accept the same pay rise as those who
have given up pay to go on strike for it. They are not doing anyone any favours.

So, people are supposed to let their health deteriorate, waiting exceedingly long for inferior treatment, just so they don't "play into the hands of those who want to see private health care." I don't think James Taggart could have said it better. To put this quote another way, people should accept suffering in order to prove that the government can do things better than the private sector.

An equally poignant refutation of government programs comes from a former NHS employee:
After having worked in NHS, I tend to agree with the article and most of
the comments by readers. Most of the NHS trust CEOs are mediocres and lack
innovative ideas. Degradation is in almost every segment. I came across cases
where even written contracts are not honoured. Its not the funding, but
management which needs to be blamed for all the ills.

The problem of course is that you will have extreme difficulty ever getting a government program in which management is anything but "mediocre" and "lack[ing] innovative ideas." There is, after all, little or no incentive for them to excel and be creative when doing so will not result in a better life for them. In fact, there is a giant disincentive to do so, since questioning one's superiors (who themselves lack any profit motive) means taking a risk of destroying your relationship with your superior and thereby potentially risking your job.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trading One Form of Autocracy for Another

I was watching Real Time this morning, and found this segment to be particularly disturbing. What was amazing was how Wesley Clark views any criticism of Clinton in much the same way as Republicans view any criticism of the GWOT, which is to say that all such criticism is unpatriotic, traitorous, or in this case, just a Republican smear campaign.

I don't know that Clark could have done a better job proving Sully's point that Clinton is "Cheney in a pantsuit" if he had tried.

(For the record, I had already made the decision to make this post before I saw Sully's post about the exchange).