Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's America's Fault, or Something

I am at a loss for words.

3 comments:

TO said...

At least the other op-ed (Tonelli) is good today.

http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005041202020

Anonymous said...

I want to cry every time people say that The Great Leader is doing bad things. The evil people are just too blind to see that he's only trying to help the whole world. They don't want to see him succeed. When the Rapture comes, they will pay!

Emmett said...

The author seems to make two main errors:

1) While acknowledging that every budgetary decision comes with opportunity costs, in calling the particular choice "theft," the author attaches undue rhetorical import to the necessary trade-off involved. It can just as easily be said, for instance, that every dollar we spend on doctors in India is a dollar "stolen" from the American people, who would better benefit from having it spent on defense. Such loose language is not very helpful.

2) The author fails to recognize the distinction between the traditional spheres of government responsibility, on the one hand, and the provision of ameliorative and discretionary social welfare programs, on the other. A dollar may, or may not, generate greater utility if spent on doctors rather than F-16s. But the former option runs up against a difficulty that the latter does not have to face. While everyone concedes that it is the unique province of the government to provide for the common defense (subject, of course, to the bounds of reason), there is strong disagreement of the degree to which -- if, indeed, at all -- the government should engage in social engineering.

The author clearly believes that our defense expenditures are unreasonable; but to make the case that those dollars should instead be spend on socioeconomic programs (in other countries, no less), he must contend with the argument that it is not a core government function. This he fails to do.

I'll simply say in passing that the final paragraph, in which the author derives his grand conclusions, are laughably divorced from the facts, as anyone with passing familiarity with the news can attest. (Low gas prices as a benefit of the War in Iraq? Hardly.)