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Posts Tagged ‘Brookings Institution’

The Vindication of Harry Browne… Again – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on August 25, 2020

That last sentence is where we get our Harry Browne moment. In nearly two decades we have not got our defense on track to oppose whatever ragtag band might strike us, or so Mr. Hanlon worries. To paraphrase the slogan from the XYZ affair, trillions for offense, not one cent for defense.

We have thrown sums beyond counting at the Military Industrial Complex and nothing has come up that keeps us safe except for keeping 5,000 troops there forever.

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012340801

On January 27, 2000 in an email during his 2000 campaign for the American presidency, the late Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne wrote,

“Today we have a strong national offense (the ability to blow any country to smithereens) and a weak national defense (the inability to defend against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile). We should have just the opposite. When we do, we will have a much more efficient defense-with a much smaller cost & a much less complex system.”

583 days later, Browne would be vindicated for the first time, sadly so. Despite all the billions (it was only billions back then) spent on the American military, 19 men came to America and hijacked planes to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the capital of finance. They also attacked the Pentagon and were foiled in one other action. True, it was not with a nuke, but horrible enough.

Browne did not predict the events, but they happened as could have been expected. We had been intervening in places in a way that was not to the liking of the people there and some actors noticed that there was an opportunity afforded due to the strong offense/weak defense situation.

Because Osama bin Laden supposedly launched the idea in Afghanistan, we invaded that land as he was not extradited. We did not go there because the Taliban struck NYC, they didn’t.

No matter, we have been there ever since and no one really gives a reason. Some give a mealy-mouthed rationale, but no one tells us why the Republic will fail if we leave. On February 2, 2019, Scott Simon gave a soulful little monologue on NPR about how women’s rights was a reason, well, rationale, sort of.

In essence, it seems we are there because we’re there.

Still, sometimes someone says something that makes sense in a way, even though it doesn’t. On Thursday, August 13, 2020, Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, specializing in defense and foreign policy issues, had an article at Brookings, with the title, Rightsizing the Afghanistan Mission.

Finally, we are going to get it right, or so he hopes. Some may remain skeptical, but the most interesting paragraph is this:

“Many will lament that the “forever wars” would continue under such a policy. But a mission focused on training Afghans and conducting counterterrorism operations, costing perhaps $10 to $15 billion and entailing 10 to 20 American fatalities a year (if the recent past is a guide), is a far cry from the clear, hold, and build operations conducted largely by U.S. ground forces a decade ago – with American fatalities reaching as high as 500 a year and costs exceeding $100 billion annually. Compared to the alternative of an American homeland again possibly at risk from extremist attack hatched in the land of the Hindu Kush, it is likely the least bad choice.”

That last sentence is where we get our Harry Browne moment. In nearly two decades we have not got our defense on track to oppose whatever ragtag band might strike us, or so Mr. Hanlon worries. To paraphrase the slogan from the XYZ affair, trillions for offense, not one cent for defense.

We have thrown sums beyond counting at the Military Industrial Complex and nothing has come up that keeps us safe except for keeping 5,000 troops there forever.

He means it, as the first sentence makes clear, but recently, the idea of “forever wars” has been getting a bad press, if only because they are forever, which does imply little purpose.

The man thinks it’s all a good bargain. “10 to 20 American fatalities” per annum, forever (it is after all a forever war) is a price he is willing to pay. One might guess they think that statistically insignificant at Brookings. Then again, nothing is really statistically insignificant if you are the statistic. Fortunately for Mr. O’Hanlon, he does not have much to worry about in that department though he has probably made field trips there.

The estimate of “perhaps $10 to $15 billion” a year may not seem too steep either, given inflation, but could not that money be better used by the sinecuricrats at the foundations? Could they not come up with a plan so that intelligence agencies could counter all those bad guys who feel offended at being helped by our internationalism without sending troops to poor mountainous countries? Kind of begs the question of why do they call them “think” tanks anyway?

“Tank,” however, makes sense as in “in the” tank. Who would donate all that moolah to such institutes unless an interest is served?

So, as the years roll on, we shall continue to have a garrison in the “graveyard of empires,” but as another 911 anniversary approaches we should remember the late Harry Brown; presidential candidate, author, economist, libertarian and, as it turns out, prophet.

We have to fight them over there so we don’t have to think about it too much over here.

Richard Morchoe is a columnist, book reviewer and article writer for a regional monthly magazine in Western Central Massachusetts. His email address is rmorchoe@ymail.com.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: When Reparations for Slavery Become Just Another Welfare Program

Posted by M. C. on August 22, 2020

This has now become the standard policy formula for reparations. It’s not about payments to specific victims. It’s about increasing funding for the usual package of social programs around housing, cash transfers, and healthcare. In other words, in its form and administration, the “reparations state” is now indistinguishable from the “welfare state.”
But this doesn’t mean the idea of cash payments to specific descendants of slaves has been completely abandoned.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/08/when-reparations-for-slavery-become.html

By Ryan McMaken
The idea that former slaves and their descendants ought to receive reparations for the wrongs committed against them is not new. Having grasped the fact that slavery is nothing less than kidnapping and theft committed against the enslaved, abolitionists long advocated for some form of redress for freed slaves.
The most famous early attempt to create a reparation program of sorts is likely General Sherman’s Field Order #15. Issued as a wartime measure, Sherman’s order—which never became widespread policy—divided plantations along the Atlantic Coast into forty-acre parcels to be distributed to forty thousand emancipated workers. Sherman’s motivation was likely military expediency rather than an attempt to compensate victims. Nonetheless, the idea that former slaves would receive “forty acres and a mule” became a symbol of an unfulfilled promise to provide compensation for lives of forced servitude. This variety of reparations, of course—as noted by Murray Rothbard—is morally and legally desirable:
On the libertarian homesteading principle, the plantations should have reverted to the ownership of the slaves, those who were forced to work them, and not have remained in the hands of their criminal masters. That is the fourth alternative. But there is a fifth alternative that is even more just: the punishment of the criminal masters for the benefit of their former slaves—in short, the imposition of reparations or damages upon the former criminal class, for the benefit of their victims. All this recalls the excellent statement of the Manchester Liberal, Benjamin Pearson, who, when he heard the argument that the masters should be compensated replied that “he had thought it was the slaves who should have been compensated.”
Demands for this this style of reparations—to be paid to specific victims by specific perpetrators—continued for a time. During Reconstruction, efforts to distribute former plantations lands to victims were proposed by the Freedmen’s Bureau but quashed by President Andrew Johnson.  The first organization devoted specifically to reparations was formed in 1896, when Callie House and Isaiah Dickerson founded the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association. Other early efforts include a plan from Henry McNeal Turner, a prominent African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop, calling for $40 billion in reparations.
As time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that this was not going to happen soon enough for the former slaves themselves to enjoy any sort of compensation for labor and freedoms previously stolen.
Attempts to recover reparations became more geared toward general taxpayer-funded efforts and less reliant on one-time payments as a form of restitution.
For example, beginning during the 1940s, the Nation of Islam urged reparations for slavery and “called on the federal government to cede several southern states to become the territory of an African American nation” (Biondi, p. 7).
More elaborate plans followed. In 1969, James Forman presented his Black Manifesto to the National Black Economic Development Conference, in which he demanded $500 million in reparations, which would be used to finance the institutional and infrastructural elaboration of a “Black Socialist State”:
Foremost among the proposals of the Manifesto was the use of $200,000,000 to fund the creation of a “Southern land bank” to protect tenant farmers evicted from their homes in retaliation for political activism and to support the efforts of those wishing to establish cooperative farms. There were proposals for the establishment of publishing houses, television stations, and “a Black University in the South.”
By 1969, more than a century since emancipation, the idea of compensating specific former slaves (or their heirs) had clearly given way to what was to resemble what the National Urban League would call a domestic “Marshall plan for Negro Citizens” as early as 1963. In 1990, for instance, the Urban League again called for this “Marshall Plan” at the end of the Cold War, arguing that the end of the Soviet threat had freed the US up to engage in “rebuilding” its urban centers. In 2018, the the Congressional Black Caucus introduced new legislation deemed a “Marshall Plan for Black America.”
Today, the idea of reparations is geared toward the sorts of policy options that are now quite familiar: more spending on programs that resemble traditional welfare programs of recent decades. Kamala Harris, for example, supports more spending on health programs “as a form of reparations for slavery.”
This April 2020 report from the Brookings Institution suggests that reparations take the form of student loan forgiveness, free college tuition, and down payment grants for potential homeowners.
This has now become the standard policy formula for reparations. It’s not about payments to specific victims. It’s about increasing funding for the usual package of social programs around housing, cash transfers, and healthcare. In other words, in its form and administration, the “reparations state” is now indistinguishable from the “welfare state.”
But this doesn’t mean the idea of cash payments to specific descendants of slaves has been completely abandoned.
The idea has been revived in recent decades by new legal and legislative developments. This includes 1988 legislation adopted by Congress in which victims of Japanese internment during World War II received $20,000 each. And in 1994, the State of Florida agreed to pay reparations to the survivors of the 1923 Rosewood massacre.
These events revived interest in the old idea of direct reparation, but naturally complications were immediately apparent. The payments to victims of internment and the Rosewood massacre were to specific individuals. Moreover, their numbers were far smaller than the millions of descendants of formers slaves currently residing in the US today.
Nonetheless, the Brookings report implies that a grant of more than $100,000 to each household would be necessary to close the “wealth gap” between whites and blacks. Economist William Darity suggests that closing this wealth gap requires transfers of up to $12 trillion. Other proposals claim totals in excess of $16 trillion, a sum approaching the size of the entire US gross domestic product.
Needless to say, a reparations program of this magnitude is exceedingly unlikely to happen. Even in our current era of trillion-dollar bailouts, handing over $10 trillion dollars to satisfy a single interest group is unlikely. Not even New York bankers have managed that feat.
However, the reparations issue is unlikely to disappear any time soon, because it will remain useful to the debate over taxpayer funding of the welfare state. As such, calls for reparations remain part of a toolbox for demanding that ever greater sums be poured into social programs. That’s an important tool that no savvy fundraiser, politician, or lobbyist is likely to give up.
 
Ryan McMaken is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. 
 
The above originally appeared at mises.org.

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Survey: Americans Warming to Use of Facial Recognition

Posted by M. C. on January 8, 2019

Trade offs! – Sheeple!

If you use Eazy-Pass or live in a city with the right kind of intersection cameras they probably have your mug data banked already.

The same government that is analyzing your face can’t tell dog hair from human hair and lies about it in court.

https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2019/01/survey-americans-warming-use-facial-recognition-tech/153987/

By Frank Konkel,

Americans do not favor strict limits on facial recognition technology, according to a new national survey.

A growing number of Americans are OK with the facial recognition technology, especially if it increases public safety, according to a national survey released Monday.

Conducted on a national poll of 3,151 U.S. adults in December, the survey found only one in four Americans believe the federal government should strictly limit the use of facial biometrics technology.

The survey also indicates Americans are more likely to support any apparent tradeoff to their own privacy caused by facial recognition technology if it benefits law enforcement, reduces shoplifting or speeds up airport security lines.

Only 18 percent of those polled said they agreed with strict limitations on facial recognition tech if it comes at the expense of public safety, compared to 55 percent who disagreed with such limitations…

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