Friday 7th of October 2022

meanwhile, the "new" environmental package is ambiguous…..

Both parties agree on one thing: More money for the military 

Political divisions stand in the way of most legislation, but both sides of the aisle are happy to keep feeding the beast at the Pentagon.

It was quite a week last week. Forest fires and floods testified to the devastating, inexorable march of global warming.

— Record high inflation, led by food and gas, continued to strike at American pocketbooks. (I’ll take the gas price increase if it incentivizes a more rapid move toward renewables, but it is a financial disaster for consumers, farmers, and shippers and a political disaster for the Democrats in the fall.)

 

BY Gordon Adams.     02/07/22

 

— FED action raising interest rates foreshadowed a recession and an end to much-needed wage increases and low unemployment.

— The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and NY State’s gun control law, telling us the court will be hard right conservative for years to come.

— Starvation loomed in the developing world as Ukrainian grain supplies remained blockaded by Russia. Increased migration will surely follow. The war continues, making oil market problems worse and killing 100-200 Ukrainian solders a day.

As we celebrate the nation’s founding, we are at risk of becoming a severely divided people, as  Ronald Brownstein pointed out in The Atlantic recently.  Fact and reason seem to blow like early autumn leaves in the wind. 

The flood of bad news rivals Hurricane Katrina and takes my breath away. I want to crawl under my bed, play old Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes, cuddle my cat, Doc, until the storm passes.

Oh, wait, there is one big political agreement we almost didn’t notice. Amidst all this turmoil, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees agreed by staggering majorities that we need to spend more on defense in the coming fiscal year. Not just more, but tens of billions more than the $813 billion President Biden already asked for when he sent up his budget in late March. The Senate Committee added $45 billion, by a vote of 23-3. The House committee was a piker, adding only $37 billion, by a staggering 57-1 vote, with only one dissent – Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)

Did I tell you that both committees are chaired by Democrats? As if that mattered.

As a budget maven, I acknowledge that the Armed Services committees are “authorizers.” They don’t appropriate the actual money DoD can spend; they are just authorizing a certain level. If the appropriators, who do the real money, want to go along, they will. But if that gives you hope that the military spending train can be slowed down, you need only look to the current military budget, where the appropriators approved $29 billion more than Biden requested for this year.

The military budget is on the march and everybody seems to agree, like they have for years. A rare moment of bipartisan unity.

It’s less about national defense than it is about politics. Republicans are talking tough and Democrats are scurrying for political cover so they won’t be accused of being “weak” on national security. That’s the cudgel Nixon, Reagan, and every Republican has beaten Democratic heads with, ever since George McGovern went down in flames in 1972.

Take what happened in Maine as an illustration. The House committee’s increase was sponsored by Jared Golden, Democrat, US Army vet holding the purple seat in the 2nd CD, facing a strong Republican opponent.

Golden has disappointed me pretty regularly, but then, I live in the 1st CD, so why should he care? The 2nd is economically poor, white, loaded with Trump supporters (twice that electoral vote has gone to Trump). Gun control is anathema, mask use was contested, and the military is sacred. Nobody is going to call Golden “weak” on national security, not if he can help it.

Moreover, the shrunken military-industrial complex in Maine still has a naval industry, with ships built at Bath Iron Works 8 miles from my door and repaired in Kittery (and Portsmouth NH across the river). All the Maine politicos line up in support – the liberal Chellie Pingree, the Independent Sen. Angus King, and Republican Susan Collins (who was “misled” by Brett Kavanaugh).

Democrats don’t want to look “weak.” Industries and bases are important constituents. And you can bet the defense industry flogs their interests hard. The military services always want more. In a book I wrote 40 years ago, I called this the “Iron Triangle” – the working system that links the services, the Congress, and the industry (and communities). In support, we all get pummeled with publicity and appeals to patriotism (Just watch “Top Gun: Maverick” – a total fiction – if you want the latest Hollywood version of military propaganda.)

Of course, the official rationale for all this spending is that China, Russia, and those pesky terrorists are coming. The US military way overmatches Russian capabilities today. Chinese capabilities are now being hyped as the threat, though the US military far out-matches what the Chinese have, as well. It’s threat inflation; much as the Soviet military was hyped during the Cold War. I am not saying there is no capability there; just that DoD continually underestimates what we have and overestimates them.

This is the reality of the Top Gun world. It’s about political power, local influence, campaign contributions, strategic rhetoric, and mystifying the nation, way past the point of necessity or even our best interests. The system is, as they say in the military, a “self-licking ice cream cone.” Exaggerate the threat, get funds and systems to deal with it, and continuously recycle the need for more to Congress and the public.

I listened regularly to those overestimates and observed the Iron Triangle for five years when I worked out of the White House on national security budgets.

Why is the military budget so big, I was asked? It’s about being global cop, is the answer. I used to tote briefing graphics around the West Wing, ready to sit down with anyone interested.

It showed that we have the only military in the world that can deploy ground forces (Army and Marines) around the globe. The only military that sails warships in every sea. The only military that can deliver air power on a global basis. To make these operations possible, we are the only country with a global basing infrastructure (750 across the world), military communications system, transportation network (sea and air), and network of military and civilian intelligence operations. It is deployed virtually everywhere in the world.

A global military costs a lot of money. It makes a lot of people rich. It makes lives in some countries worse (think Iraq and Afghanistan). It wastes a lot of money (those military vehicles we left behind for the Taliban, for example). Above all, it gets us in trouble (today we are investing the US military in Africa, with little public discussion; our future wars).

It is deucedly hard to challenge this juggernaut. In my experience, the military budget only goes down for two reasons. Reason one – we get out of a war and suddenly need to spend less. Reason two: defense gets caught in an era of deficit reduction. The only way Democrats and Republicans can agree to cut federal spending is if everything is on the table – Republicans want to cut domestic spending; Democrats want to cut defense. Happened in 1985, 1990, and 2011. Not likely to happen again soon.

We’re having a hard time getting agreement on anything else in this country – race, climate change, abortion, prison reform, immigration, childcare, gun control, you name your favorite fundamental disagreement. When it comes to budgets, we set these priorities every year. The military budget comes out a bipartisan winner, most of the time.

 

READ MORE:

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/07/02/dems-and-reps-only-agree-on-one-thing-more-money-for-the-military/

 

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wrong….

The following article is wrong....

 

Is Economic Growth Synonymous with Ecological Destruction? The NYT Gets It Wrong (Again)

 

BY 

 

According to the New York Times (NYT) article July 17, 2022, “The pioneering economist says our obsession with growth must end,” a major threat to our living standard is the obsession with economic growth. Herman Daly—an economist that has been exploring for more than fifty years the relationship between economic growth and individuals’ living standards—is of the view that the pursuit of economic growth causing ecological harm.

He developed arguments in favor of a steady-state economy, one that forgoes the insatiable and environmentally destructive hunger for growth, recognizes the physical limitations of our planet and seeks sustainable economic and ecological equilibrium. According to Daly, the basic question that should be asked is whether growth ever becomes uneconomic.

Daly was influenced by Georgescu-Roegen known for his 1971 “The Entropy Law and the Economic Process,” in which he argued that all natural resources are irreversibly degraded when put to use in economic activity. As a result, at some point all of earth’s mineral resources would eventually be exhausted. 

Consequently, this is going to pose a threat to human life. Hence, Daly advocates imposing permanent government restrictions on the flow of natural resources through the world economy. Georgescu-Roegen’s work was decisive for the establishing of ecological economics as an independent academic subdiscipline in economics.

Moreover, on this way of thinking if one accepts that aiming at economic growth is bad news for the ecology, then one also must believe that striving to make profits is also bad for human’s living standards.

What we have here is a similar argument to the one presented in 1798 by Thomas Malthus in his “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” According to Malthus, the food supply and other related resources expand at a linear progression while the population is growing at a geometrical progression, which at some point would threaten human life.

Wealth Generation and Ecological Issues

If free fluctuations in the prices of goods and services are allowed to occur, the market will resolve the issue of resource depletion. For instance, the increase in the price of resource A because of strong demand for it is likely to lead individuals to use the less-costly resource B. In addition, likely substitutes are going to be introduced to replace the resource A with some other more abundant resources.

Furthermore, in a free-market economy individuals’ property rights will make sure that environmental polluters are more likely to be penalized since he inflicts damages to the person and property of other individuals. When government enterprises cause pollution, however, taxpayers are forced to compensate pollution victims.

Changes in GDP Depict Monetary Growth Not Economic Growth

The ecological economists also erroneously associate wealth generation and profits with changes in gross domestic product, even though changes in GDP have nothing to do with economic growth. Increases in the money supply drive much of the GDP growth rate. Increases in the money supply set in motion the menace of the boom-bust cycle and economic impoverishment, so it is not surprising that the so-called economic growth in terms of GDP is associated with all the negatives portrayed by ecological economics.

It follows that in addition to the government interference with businesses, the tampering with the money supply by the central bank also undermines individuals’ living standards. Again, the market economy requires free fluctuations in the relative prices. (Observe that the prices of goods and services are expressed in terms of money). In a free-market economy where money is selected by the market, changes in the relative prices are likely to reflect the true state of the relative demands for goods and services.

Once the central bank money replaces the market money, this opens the door for the central bank tampering with money supply. As a result, the relative price fluctuations no longer reflect the true state of the demand for goods and services.

Consequently, changes in the relative prices most likely generate misleading signals, as businesses respond to false signals produce goods and services that are not on the highest priority list of consumers. The ongoing tampering with financial markets by the central bank also sets in motion the menace of the boom-bust cycle.

Rather than measuring the wealth formation process, GDP depicts movements in the monetary turnover because of changes in money supply. Consequently, environmental issues most likely occur because of the growth rate of GDP, which is in fact the growth rate in money supply. This however has nothing to do with genuine economic growth. Again, changes in GDP mirrors changes in money supply.

According to economist Thomas DiLorenzo:

If the profit motive is the primary cause of pollution, one would not expect to find much pollution in socialist countries, such as the former Soviet Union, China, and in the former Communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. That is, in theory. In reality, exactly the opposite is true: The socialist world suffers from the worst pollution on earth. Could it be that free enterprise is not so incompatible with environmental protection after all?

Moreover, according, to DiLorenzo:

The new German government has claimed that nearly 40 percent of the East German populace suffers ill effects from pollutants in the air. In Leipzig, half the children are treated each year for illnesses believed to be associated with air pollution. Eighty percent of eastern Germany’s surface waters are classified as unsuitable for fishing, sports, or drinking, and one out of three lakes has been declared biologically dead because of decades of untreated dumping of chemical waste. Much of the East German landscape has been devastated. Fifteen to 20 percent of its forests are dead, and another 40 percent are said to be dying. Between 1960 and 1980 at least 70 villages were destroyed and their inhabitants uprooted by the government, which wanted to mine high-sulfur brown coal.

With respect to the former Soviet Union, DiLorenzo writes:

According to economist Marshall Goldman, who studied and traveled extensively in the Soviet Union, “The attitude that nature is there to be exploited by man is the very essence of the Soviet production ethic.” … Water pollution is catastrophic. Effluent from a chemical plant killed almost all the fish in the Oka River in 1965, and similar fish kills have occurred in the Volga, Ob, Yenesei, Ural, and Northern Dvina rivers. Most Russian factories discharge their waste without cleaning it at all. Mines, oil wells, and ships freely dump waste and ballast into any available body of water…. The declining water level in the Caspian Sea has been catastrophic for its fish population as spawning areas have turned into dry land. The sturgeon population has been so decimated that the Soviets have experimented with producing artificial caviar. Hundreds of factories and refineries along the Caspian Sea dump untreated waste into the sea, and major cities routinely dump raw sewage…. The concentration of oil in the Volga is so great that steamboats are equipped with signs forbidding passengers to toss cigarettes overboard. As might be expected, fish kills along the Volga are a “common calamity.”

In a free market economy with property rights protection, it is in the interest of individuals to look after their property without violating the property rights of others. In the framework of government regulations and controls where the effective ownership is diluted, there is a diminished incentive to look after one’s own property. Hence, it is not surprising that in the former socialistic economies ecological problems were so widespread.

Conclusion 

Contrary to ecological economics, the important factor behind the environmental pollution and various climatic issues is not economic growth but the lack of free market. In the framework of a free-market economy with minimal government and without central bank, economic growth emerges because of wealth generation. The expansion in wealth coupled with the property rights protection is likely to minimize the ecological problems.

This contrasts with the former socialist economies that suffered from terrible ecological issues. The erroneous view that strong economic growth is bad for the ecology is because economic growth is measured in terms of GDP, in which the key driving factor is money supply. Unfortunately, it is popular to blame the nonexistent free-market economy for the environmental pollution and climate issues. Further government interference with markets intensifies the undermining of efficient allocation of scarce resources. Consequently, this undermines individuals’ living standards and creates ecological issues.

 

Read more:

https://mises.org/wire/economic-growth-synonymous-ecological-destruction-nyt-gets-it-wrong-again

 

READ FROM TOP.

 

 

THIS ARTICLE TENDS TO DISMISS THER DAMAGE THAT HAS BEEN DONE BY THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY (REGULATED OR NOT). FROM BURNING FOSSIL FUELS TO MAKING PLASTICS, AMERICA IS A WORSE POLLUTER THAT THE SOVIET UNION EVER WAS. PRESENTLY THE CHINESE AND THE RUSSIANS ARE WORKING HARD AT LIMITING THE DAMAGE, CONTRARY TO PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS, WHILE THE US SPEND MORE ON SENDING WEAPONS TO UKRAINE THAN THE TOTAL RUSSIAN ARMAMENT BUDGET.

 

GROWTH PER SE ISN'T THE PROBLEM. WELL, IT IS BECAUSE WE TEND TO INCREASE THE HUMAN FOOTPRINT ON THE PLANET, REDUCING HABITATS FOR OTHER SPECIES, APART FROM OUR COWS AND SHEEP, WHILE POLLUTANTS ARE OFTEN NOT OBVIOUS UNTIL TOO LATE. THOUSANDS OF NEW CHEMICALS MADE IN THE US RARELY DO HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE HARMLESS UNTIL THEY PROVE TO BE HARMFUL. UNREGULATED GROWTH HAS PROBLEM, SIMILAR TO CANCER....

 

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