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Re: Is this storm season a policy tipping point?


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9/26/2005 11:55 AM
Earl
Re: Is this storm season a policy tipping point?
At the risk of over simplicity....  
 
It really comes down to doing what every middle class household does: separate what you need to do from what you want to do. We have spent so much on a war we simply wanted that we cannot now afford to recover from two hurrricanes...something we absolutly need to do. sounds a little like Roman history. Our troops and resources are off fighting wars for glory while home land security is threatened. It is a narrow mind that believes that the only threat is from terrorist.
 
9/26/2005 2:44 PM
Mark Hammer
You have no idea how much it pains me to say this (I feel like I'm passing a turd that's "over spec", ouch), but I think the administration which got the nation committed, militarily and financially, to a foreign war thought they were doing something they "needed" to do. I'm not saying they were right, just that their narrow or misguided (or clouded) vision got them into something they thought was crucial to the nation's welfare, which ended up not being nearly as crucial as a bunch of other things.  
 
Perhaps the potential policy change that I started the thread with will come not now but a few years from now, the next time a possible Iraq will present itself. Perhaps the change will be a Congress that goes "Hmmm, I dunno, maybe we're getting ourselves in a little deep here. Maybe we oughta leave a little slack in the budget in case we get another Katrina/Rita/Ivan/Andrew/Juan/Alison/etc.".  
 
Then again, maybe the change will come from a public that doesn't see expenditures on infrastructure as a waste of money, and doesn't NEED to have it spent on sexy things like wars and space travel or new Mt. Rushmores.  
 
It's funny, I'm a psychologist by training, and one of the ongoing debates in the field is the stability or malleability of personality. Do people stay the same over their lives, or do they simply find different ways to express the same basic personality with a few added bells and whistles, or can they really change in response to life events? There is of course the more difficult question about whether people can will themselves to change, but we'll stick with the easier one of whether things can happen to a person that change them in small or big ways forever, or whether even huge life events are simply absorbed and perceievd based on who they were before the event.  
 
The debate rages on, but it does seem that some people (though not all) DO change as life proceeds and circumstances beyond their control are imposed on them. Happy-go-lucky people turn into sourpusses that see the glass as lower than half empty, and tight-assed jerks learn to relax, forgive, and see the other side. Disorganized folks have a kid or two and become day-planner converts, and control freaks have a setback or two and discover that "it just doesn't matter". By analogy, nations can have "personalities" and world-views, that can respond to major events and prevailing circumstances. Certainly, the WTC tragedy galvanized the U.S. in a particular way, as did these two hurricanes. I wonder if the close proximity of these two events provides a sort of surplus meaning, by having a man-made and a natural disaster lined up alongside each other, close enough together in time that people can compare, and set their priorities.
 
9/26/2005 10:00 PM
Pierre Debs
I open the news everyday with the as of yet unfulfilled and hoplessly infantile belief that Bush has a revelation and does a 180 on everything he has foisted upon this world.  
 
As to the malleability of personality: I never believed it until I experienced a drastic, about 155 degree turn, in a relatives whole personality. It is rather interesting and if it holds, a true feat of personal will.  
 
As for this happening to Bush, I think an IQ of over 150 is required so it will not happen even if the rest of the bush family pools their IQ points. The Dumbest American Dynasty ever.......hmmmm, I smell a book title.
 
9/27/2005 7:37 AM
Dave Rich
If you're thinking that the US should become a high tax, socialist, big government nanny state like Canada and Europe, I hope that doesn't happen.  
 
Socialist societies are less prosperous than capitalist societies. Prosperity allows you to have more resources to respond to and rebound from natural disasters. Dependency on government creates a helpless, childlike society that can't fend for itself when government breaks down. The lesson from Rita and Katrina are that those who were self reliant fared much better than those who depended on the government.  
 
The government responded to Katrina the way it always does, slow and bumbling at first then after the crisis has passed it mounts a massive, inefficient and wasteful relief effort. The job of rebuilding would be better left to the private sector who would do it in a smart, sane way.
 
9/27/2005 8:50 AM
Mark Hammer
"If you're thinking that the US should become a high tax, socialist, big government nanny state like Canada and Europe, I hope that doesn't happen. "  
 
That's not my suggestion at all. I'm just wondering whether the congress and public would diverge from the "read my lips, no new taxes" mentality, to something a little softer which says "When there's important bills to pay, maybe forking over a little more, and shifting costs around isn't such a terrible idea". Leave the f***ing SUV at the dealership, live without an in-ground pool and a 52" TV, and fork over a little to the country that is supposed to be so worth dying for. Not you, personally, but people in general.  
 
As for "nanny" state assertions, well I think that has more machismo and jingoism in it than you'd care to admit, fella. Folks on the street don't feel particularly nannied. I also find it disingenuous when large prosperous nations bully smaller ones and take economic advantage of them, and then blame those other nations for having to take extraordinary measures. Besides, since when the hell was simple kindness to others a weakness?  
 
"Socialist societies are less prosperous than capitalist societies. Prosperity allows you to have more resources to respond to and rebound from natural disasters."  
 
1) In the first place, socialism is generally the poltical/economic direction taken by less wealthy nations, after being plundered by an aristocracy, or emerging out of a war. In the second place, as folks in N.O. and Biloxi can tell you, it's not the resources one claims to have, but their distribution and accessibility. You can't go ranking nations in terms of their wealth and socialist tendencies on the one hand, and then blame poor folk within your country for not being rich enough to fend for themselves in a time of strife. It's illogical, since what you are really saying is that political-economic system has no bearing, it's whether one is personally wealthy and acquisitive that is important more than anything else.  
 
I was chatting with a neighbour who works in disaster relief in our government the other day about who does and doesn't qualify for such relief, at the level of countries. In other words, what the criteria are for our country helping out that one. Surprisingly, he said that while most people wouldn't imagine so, Cuba is one of the very best prepared countries for responding to natural disasters. Size, I imagine plays at least some small role, but Cuba graduates more physicians per capita than almost any nation on earth (they export them to other countries, the way Canada exports nurses and teachers), and has a highly elaborated and rehearsed evacuation plan in place. So much for wealthy capitalism having a monopoly on intelligent and rapid response. Ironically, when it comes to "nanny states", the Cayman Islands - you know that place where all those milionaires like to keep their money? - qualifies for international disaster aid, according to internationally accepted criteria, because it is not an autonomous state (which would make it rich, technically), but an island colony of Britain or something like that.  
 
"The job of rebuilding would be better left to the private sector who would do it in a smart, sane way."  
 
The mandate of the private sector is to make money, and look out for people as an option along the way. If you are telling me that turning the rebuilding over to the private sector will cost *less* in the final analysis, show me the receipts at the end, and I'll believe you. Show me where Haliburton does it for less.
 
9/27/2005 2:07 PM
Dave Rich
You're making a lot of straw man arguments. I reject the argument that you, or socialists in general, care more than I do. It's just that I honestly believe free market capitalism has more to offer. Draining wealth from the economy in the form of taxes does not benefit poor people.  
 
[Leave the f***ing SUV at the dealership, live without an in-ground pool and a 52" TV, and fork over a little to the country that is supposed to be so worth dying for.]  
 
So the folks at the car dealership, the pool company and the local Ciruit City don't deserve jobs? I guess the extra taxes I fork over can go towards paying their unemployment benefits. How does it help the poor to send extra money to Washington DC rather than spend it right here in my community?  
 
[socialism is generally the poltical/economic direction taken by less wealthy nations, after being plundered by an aristocracy,]  
 
In which case the aristocracy was replaced by ruling party elites and the serfs became slaves in the new 'workers paradise'. Not much difference.  
 
[it's not the resources one claims to have, but their distribution and accessibility.]  
 
Capitalism and the free market win again. History has shown that the free market distributes resources better than any other system. I don't blame the poor, but isn't it true that the wealthier you are the better you are able to fend for yourself? Why not go with a system that provides more wealth to more people?
 
9/27/2005 3:10 PM
Pierre Debs
Well show concretely that your system is providing more wealth for the most people. You canīt because it is a farce, unless of course on is very out of touch with reality.
 

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