Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Save For Discussion

If you have the time, check out these two really worthwhile pieces from the New York Times today:

Higher Education May Soon Be Unaffordable For Most Americans


British Balance Benefit vs. Cost of Latest Drugs

Seemingly unrelated, but in the end, both pieces are really about the intersection between markets and government whether they know it or not. There are questions of costs and questions of universal access and both stories seem to demonstrate, at least to me, that it ain't so easy to just give the people everything they want. Maybe a bit more on this tomorrow.


Anonymous rose said...

I know you don't delve that much into foreign affairs-

but the fact that freely elected officials in Iraq's parliament, just freely negotiated and came to an agreement that basically amounted to an alliance w/ the US and some conditions for withdrawal is amazing. Iraq is becoming an autonomous democracy. No one cares somehow. But it's amazing.

11:18 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Ever so briefly, let me just say that the reason I don't delve much into foreign affairs is mostly because of the way the Iraq debate devolved so quickly into complete and utter ignorance on both sides. Even amongst those with facts, Iraq is so large, the situation there so complex, and our window into the nation so broad and multi-faceted because of the growth of media, painting one cohesive narrative became a difficult if not impossible task.

I'm afraid that the war was so marred by politics that any calculation of whether it was worst the cost in American lives, Iraqi lives, and dollars will not be possible for a long time. But you're right and I think I made this point several months ago, if not longer. There is a functional democracy in Iraq and the violence in the few parts of the country where there was violence has decreased dramatically.

Ultimately, I think Bush will get a failing grade, not because of how Iraq turned out, but because he was a horrible communicator and never really managed to frame the war appropriately. It's just hard to swallow as literally part of the war on terror, which is how the war was cast, but could have been presented in a similar vein as the Cold War and the push to democratize Eastern Europe- It wasn't specifically about terrorism but about helping to shape a better world that's safer from terrorism.

I'm not sure I buy it 100% or that it justifies the wars costs, but it would have helped the debate and would have helped the public see the broader picture.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

You mean communicating to the American people that 9/11 and terrorism isn't about Bin Laden, but rather about the living conditions in the middle-east. Tyranny, poverty, religious intolerance...generally a lack of freedom and how easily people living under these conditions can be convinced that America is the reason their life sucks. The idea that a free and prosperous Iraq can be the first step towards putting pressure on the Syria's and Iran's to democratize and only through democratization of the mid-east can you ever really win the war on terror.

4:13 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

I couldn't put it better and those are precisely the reasons I've been supportive of the war, despite that at times incompetent nature with which it was carried out.

The public came to see the Cold War as being, in part, about blue jeans and rock n' roll (and how the communist part of the world didn't have these symbolic examples of American freedom and luxury). And there has been no similar understanding of the war on terror.

What's funny is, some conservatives can get very worked up when liberals start to talk about the root causes of terrorism (I can myself when it drifts into blame America territory). But in a way, what you're talking about, what Iraq was about, actually was about addressing the root causes of terrorism. Only problem for the libs is, they tend to like to talk a lot, and don't like it so much when anyone tries to do anything. Taking action is, after all, messy by definition.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

That is why I get so worked up when I here Obama or any other leaders talking about Iraq as if the only thing that matters at this point is getting out.

I want to hear a democrat who opposed the war recognize that while the costs were too great in their mind, it would be unfathomable not to do our best to finish the job and pursue a free and autonomous Iraq.

I need to hear a recognition from Obama of what a free Iraq could mean to the future of not just the middle-east, but the world. Not just on a 5-10 year horizon, but a 20-30 year horizon.

The economic growth and diversification that will inevitably come to a free Iraq, as the rest of the region continues to tap down their oil resources, their only means on wealth, has the potential to change the face of the entire region.

I understand that Obama had a lot of incentive to treat the Iraq war as a meaningless failure during election season (although I still can't accept that kind of politicization since it w/ out a doubt strengthens the enemy), but now, he needs to address and recognize the strategic importance of Iraq on the war on terror and the incredible potential a free Iraq has for the region.

And I still think we should be grateful that McCain was so forceful in supporting the surge, because many many republicans were not and Bush may not have had the political capital left to get it done w/ out someone like McCain.

10:56 AM  

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