Have you ever met a war you didn’t love?
I don’t do a lot of reporting on global warming (not to say that it’s not important, it is.. anything involving the environment is important), but a somewhat recent paper claimed that 97% of climate science papers agree that climate change is man-made.
This is a very good example of how statistics can be misleading. While it may be true that 97% think that climate change is man-made, a closer look at the statistics show only 1.6% believe that climate change is primarily caused by man.
Despite the New York Times article that is going viral, the article is only telling you half the story. The Times article starts out with this misleading introductory paragraph:
"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.”
The misnomer arises when defining the United States Army. In World War II, the Pentagon did not have Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities. UAV’s will continue to be purchased by the military. To get a full understanding, one must go back to the “government shutdown" in 2013 (also a misnomer). With the threat of another possible sequestration, a deal had to be reached between Barack Obama and Congress. This deal was met in December of 2013. Within this deal was cuts to military spending, but not as radical as some might think.
The budget for the Pentagon is roughly over $500 billion if you include the money for Afghanistan & Iraq (which are considered separate from the Pentagon budget). This bodes well for very many defense contractors (many of which are in the top 5 of federal government contractors). Northrop Grumman build’s the drone called the Global Hawk. The Air Force was set to retire this drone fleet due to operating costs, but was forced to keep them.
This provides evidence of things to come. After President Obama signed into law the new budget, the Department of Defense released the “Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap”. Here is some revealing information:
Here we see that budgets don’t seem to be falling for unmanned aerial vehicles. In fact, in the long term, they are growing significantly when looking at the aggregate.
Unfortunately this only talks about budget. However, drones are becoming very, very economical regardless of the kind that the Air Force was desperately trying to get rid of.
If we are to define the United States Army purely based on the amount of living human beings, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is being completely honest. If not, he may need to make way for a younger generation that is informed enough to know that drones don’t just spy anymore, they kill.
Popular wisdom often praises those who get involved in politics, who vote in democratic elections, fight for a cause they believe in, and try to make the world a better place. We tend to assume that such individuals are moved by high ideals and that, when they change the world, it is usually for the better.
The clear evidence of human ignorance and irrationality in the political arena poses a challenge to the popular wisdom. Lacking awareness of basic facts of their political systems, to say nothing of the more sophisticated knowledge that would be needed to reliably resolve controversial political issues, most citizens can do no more than guess when they enter the voting booth. Far from being a civic duty, the attempt to influence public policy through such arbitrary guesses is unjust and socially irresponsible. Nor have we any good reason to think political activists or political leaders to be any more reliable in arriving at correct positions on controversial issues; those who are most politically active are often the most ideologically biased, and may therefore be even less reliable than the average person at identifying political truths. In most cases, therefore, political activists and leaders act irresponsibly and unjustly when they attempt to impose their solutions to social problems on the rest of society.
Putin says that America is becoming godless and morally bankrupt because the United States is adopting measures to allow same sex marriage.
Well, hell, I am one proud person to be morally bankrupt then,
This is hilarious. One of the biggest reasons why I am a libertarian.
So the U.S. has greater inequality than Nigeria. Does that fact indicate that the U.S. has a problem? On the contrary, it shows the silliness of caring about inequality *per se*. I would rather be a poor person in the U.S. than a poor person (or even a middle class person) in Nigeria. I’d rather have a random draw from the U.S. distribution than a random draw from the Nigerian distribution. Point being, what really matters is people’s *absolute* well-being (at the bottom of the distribution and elsewhere), not their *relative* well-being. Pakistan is one of the most equal places on the map, but you couldn’t get me to live there without putting a gun to my head.
(And by the way, I don’t think the U.S. income distribution is A-okay. I think it results partly from good things like innovation and partly from bad things like implicit government subsidies to the financial sector. But the inequality isn’t bad in itself; it’s just weakly correlated with some bad things, as well as some good things.)
Here is the link he is referring to. Original post was back in Sept. 13. Here is a thought experiment to help people realize that they most likely care about absolute poverty rather than income inequality.
"The philosopher Robert Nozick once claimed that the most basic question of Political Philosophy is “Why not Anarchy?” Political philosophers pose this question often with the intent of demonstrating that there is indeed a good philosophical reason why governments should exist. Indeed, we often simply take for granted that the state and its vast coercive apparatus is morally justified. Similarly, we tend to think that anarchy is both a practically untenable and morally undesirable mode of social association. But governments claim not only power but authority over their citizens. And a few moments of reflection on the idea of authority suffices to see how curious an idea it is. To have authority is to have a right to create moral obligations in others simply by issuing commands, and a corresponding right to coerce compliance when others fail to obey one’s commands. It seems a puzzling phenomenon: The government claim to be able to make it the case that you’re morally required to do something simply in virtue of the fact that it has told you to do it. And they claim the moral right to imprison you for failing to do what they say.
In The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey (Palgrave Macmillan 2013), Michael Huemer explores this puzzling phenomenon, and defends the conclusion that in fact there is no such thing as political authority.”
This is an interview by two philosophers (one from Vanderbilt, the other from the University of Iowa) with Michael Huemer (professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder) regarding his newest book The Problem of Political Authority.
Jacob Applebaum gave a talk on the NSA surveillance. He graduated from the University of Washington. He is a security specialist. He has since moved to Germany because he does not feel safe in the United States. He has been involved with Wikileaks, he is friends with both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. This talk also includes what he released to Spiegel yesterday morning, in which it was released that the NSA will intercept shipments of technology (say, if you bought an external hard drive on Amazon), they will then put “bugs” in them. A lot of it is technology jargon, but you can get the idea of what is going on. Really, really recommend watching this. I don’t post much about civil libertarian stuff, but I felt that this was especially important.
"We redacted all the names of agents and information about those names including their phone numbers and email addresses. I should say that I actually think that laws here are wrong because they are in favor of an oppressor who is criminal. So when we redact the names of people who are engaged in criminal activity including drone murder. We are actually NOT doing the right thing. But I believe we should comply with the law so that we can continue to publish."
Racism & Minimum Wage
John F. Kennedy: Of course, having on the market a rather large source of cheap labor depresses wages outside of that group, too – the wages of the white worker who has to compete. And when an employer can substitute a colored worker at a lower wage – and there are, as you pointed out, these hundreds of thousands looking for decent work – it affects the whole wage structure of an area, doesn’t it?
Clarence Mitchell ( director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP): I certainly think that is why the Southern picture is as it is today on the wage matters, that there is a constant threat that if the white people don’t accept the low wages that are being paid to them, some Negroes will come in [to] work for a lower wage. Of course, you feel it then up in Connecticut and Massachusetts, because various enterprising people decide to take their plants out of your states and take them down to the areas of cheap labor.
Jacob Javits (then a U.S. Senator from New York): I point out to Senators from industrial states like my own that a minimum wage increase would also give industry in our states some measure of protection, as we have too long suffered from the unfair competition based on substandard wages and other labor conditions in effect in certain areas of the country – primarily in the South.