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Monthly Archives: February 2013

American and European agencies that regulate “organic” food, obviously, require said crops to be DDT-free. This makes a lot of sense.

There’s a big fight out in Uganda now between organic farmers making tons of cash on European supply chains and the real humanitarians that want to get rid of malaria (which decreases, as Jeffrey Sachs has demonstrated, GDP by 30% controlling for all other factors).

There are many ways to treat rid of malaria (bed nets being a prime example), however DDT is remarkably cost-effective. The organic farmers in Uganda have pretty much put a stop to all activities that would cripple malaria, thereby subjecting their countrymen to another generation of poverty, disease, and malnourishment – in hopes of meeting American and European standards.

This is just another example of how the well-intentioned crusaders for an all organic world ignore that for anyone that isn’t rich, organic food is irrelevant, and probably harmful (with second-order effects).

I’d bet every dollar of foreign aid (which is a mess by itself) that goes towards malaria relief has been counteracted by Greenpeace spreading exaggerations across the world. You don’t have to give any money to help those afflicted, just stop giving to various, “eco” groups that make the situation far worse than it is.

 

Addendum: I have nothing against real, substantive environmental policy. I’m a fan of high carbon tax rates, higher efficiency standards on air travel, awareness of depleting fossil fuels, etc. I’m just allergic to much of the crap that dominates “eco-talk”, like Greenpeace asserting Google and Cloud computing are a threat to the environment when video-cons reduce the need for carbon-intensive executives to be in Australia in the morn and DC in the eve. 

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“Sound is the change in the specific condition of segregation of the material parts, and in the negation of this condition; merely an abstract or an ideal ideality, as it were, of that specification. But this change, accordingly, is itself immediately the negation of the material specific subsistence; which is, therefore, real ideality of specific gravity and cohesion, i.e.–heat. The heating up of the sounding bodies, just as of beaten and or rubbed ones, is the appearance of heat, originating conceptually together with sound.” -Hegel

Uhm.

When “NATO” (read: the Americans) instituted a no-fly zone to help rebels in Libya, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned against defense cuts by European nations.

NATO accounts for over 70% of international military spending. America accounts for more than half that.

There is value in an international military alliance that is dominated by one superpower. NATO speaks of a common history and, maybe more poignantly, a shared struggle against Soviet communism.

For several reasons, America should no longer subsidize European defense:

  1. We are not as dominant a force today as we were in the 20th century. More importantly, we have to worry about our own shores (or, rather, chips) against Chinese cyberterrorism. China, unlike the American Senate, knows Europe to be irrelevant.
  2. The Marshall Plan was the beginning of American reconstruction of Europe. If not for American pressure, the French and British would have exacted brutal reparations on Germany. We knew that intercontinental trade would be critical to redevelopment, and luckily had the wherewithal to implement it. With the Marshall Plan, America entered an era-long agreement to run trade deficits to rebuild the Old World.
  3. Today, Europe is not as primeval with anachronistic monarchies and egoistic governments. European nations are rich, and have some of the most robust (if inefficient) welfare states in the world.
  4. We spend almost 5% of our GDP on defense, while much of Europe spends less than 1%. Also, 5% of our GDP actually adds up to something significant. Theirs? Not so much.
  5. Americans of the 20th century remember a shared struggle against communism. Even Bill Clinton, our first baby boomer president, worked on increasing NATO spending and forged a stronger alliance (and single-handedly saved Kosovo with it). My generation doesn’t remember that struggle. Actually, what we remember is a European disdain for America and its way of life, a heavy-handed criticism of our military, and a holier-than-thou attitude towards our culture. Quite simply, unlike my Dad’s generation, we just don’t care about Europe, anymore.
  6. Sec. Gates was prescient enough to note this. As he told the Germans (who have the most pathetic military budget) this younger generation of Americans will find it harder to justify the placement of Patriot missiles in Europe while at the same time slashing social welfare stateside.
  7. Oh, and, while we cut our welfare spending – French kids protest an earlier retirement and the idea of working more than 35 hours a week.

Ultimately, with the evaporation of communism, the resurgence of a somewhat robust Europe, and a struggling economy, the Sequester represents a perfect opportunity to move from an old era of international dominance and foreign entanglements to a more American isolationism.

We’re leaving Iraq. We’re leaving Afghanistan. It’s time to leave the Old World and focus on more pressing threats from the East. The Middle East will become quite a bit less important as, by 2020, America will be a net exporter of oil. Europe will find the resources to fund its own defense, maybe at the cost of an enshrined work week of 35 hours, but surely to the benefit of a single-mother in Harlem who has to decide between rent and heat.

I have nothing against Europe. But I also have nothing for it.

 

Addendum: I should note that there are some European countries like Netherlands and Denmark that really do pull their weight.