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Monday message board

January 30th, 2006

It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. As usual, civilised discussion and absolutely no coarse language, please[1].

fn1. Given recent problems with trolls and generally heated debate, I’m going to come down harder on this. Please don’t use any abusive language, swear words including *ster*sked versions and so on.

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  1. wilful
    February 1st, 2006 at 11:02 | #1

    Oh and didn’t Marx advocate the collectivisation of all workplaces and the total equality of all workers? Not somehting that I’ve heard Steve Munn advocate. Unless you’re just using overblown hyperbole, you fascist running-dog.

  2. Katz
    February 2nd, 2006 at 22:18 | #2

    For all his bluster, George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address represents a giant retreat from asserted US influence in the Middle East. In many ways, this retreat is more important than Richard Nixon’s Guam Doctrine in the wreckage of the Vietnam War.

    And Bush has exposed himself as a bigger wimp than the trademark wimp and whipping boy of the Right, Jimmy Carter.

    This is what Jimmy Carter, said in his State of the Union Address, 23 January 1980:

    The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan. Carter asserted that the recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil.”

    Thus the Middle East and the US appetite for oil were welded together. Under the Carter Doctrine the US was prepared to go to war to guarantee access to Middle Eastern oil.

    Carter stated:

    “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

    Bush’s invasion of Iraq and indeed, until now, his entire Middle Eastern policy was within the Carter Doctrine tradition, and perhaps even an extension of the Carter Doctrine. “The American way of life is not negotiable,” Bush proclaimed in 2001.

    But look at what Bush said in February 2006:

    “Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world … Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”

    Bush has dumped the Carter Doctrine. Middle East oil is too difficult to secure.

    And suddenly the American way of life is very negotiable indeed.

  3. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:24 | #3

    The main difference between Jimmy Carter and GWB is that while both said that any attempt to gain control of the Persian Gulf would be considered an assault and dealt with accordingly, Carter didn’t really mean that he would take any action. GWB clearly meant that he would. Interestingly, Bush, who was never all that interested in foreign policy until 9/11, actually took the action that Carter, who was ONLY interested in foreign policy, while he ignored anything domestic, steadfastly refused to take. Even after US citizens were taken hostage in Iran.

  4. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:28 | #4

    “Middle East oil is too difficult to secure.”

    Tha US doesn’t actually get very much of its oil from the ME. Most of it comes from Canada and Venezuela and domestic sources. I think it’s less than 10% coming from Saudi Arabia.

  5. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:33 | #5

    ah, here it is…

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/rankings/crudebycountry.htm

    In 2004, the US imported 10,088,000 barrels per day of which 2,400,000 came from the Persian Gulf.

  6. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:36 | #6

    “Carter didn’t really mean that he would take any action.”

    I’m amazed at your privileged knowledge of the real motivations of President Carter.

    You can’t be channelling him because he isn’t dead yet.

    So how do you do it?

    Actually, the main difference between Carter and Bush is that Carter had some insight into the military capabilities of the United States. He knew that winning the war wasn’t sufficient. And he knew that winning the war was a guarantee of losing the bigger prize, which was the peace that followed the war.

    Oh gosh, we’re talking quagmires again.

    And isn’t it fascinating that this quote from Bush’s most recent State of the Union Address:

    “America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world”

    sidles right up next to the idea of a quagmire.

    Because you see, Avaroo, there is nothing more “unstable” than a “quagmire”.

  7. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:46 | #7

    “I’m amazed at your privileged knowledge of the real motivations of President Carter.”

    His motivations aren’t of much interest to me. I was talking specifically about his actions (or lack thereof)

  8. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:49 | #8

    “In 2004, the US imported 10,088,000 barrels per day of which 2,400,000 came from the Persian Gulf.”

    So using this arithmetic, the American way of life is 24.187% negotiable.

  9. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:52 | #9

    I’m not sure what you mean by “negotiable”.

  10. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:54 | #10

    “His motivations aren’t of much interest to me. I was talking specifically about his actions (or lack thereof)”

    You may have thought you were talking about Carter’s actions. In fact you were referring to his motivations. That’s what the word “mean” means.

    As for his actions, I dealt with them in the earlier reply.

    Your task, Avaroo, is to disprove the contention that Carter took the correct actions in regard to Iran. (I’ll concede in advance that Carter’s reluctant consent to the abortive raid was an act of sheer idiocy.)

  11. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 07:58 | #11

    “Interestingly, Bush, who was never all that interested in foreign policy until 9/11, actually took the action that Carter, who was ONLY interested in foreign policy, while he ignored anything domestic, steadfastly refused to take.”

    This is action, not motivation.Y

    “our task, Avaroo, is to disprove the contention that Carter took the correct actions in regard to Iran.”

    Even Carter no longer thinks he took the correct actions in regard to Iran.

  12. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 08:56 | #12

    “This is action, not motivation.Y”

    No Avaroo, “bait and switch” doesn’t work.

    You have quoted yourself out of context. I’ll admit this is a novel tactic, but all the more egregious for that reason.”

    Please either try to justify your use of the word “means” as you used it, or acknowledge that you shouldn’t have used it.

    And again, to quote myself, not out of context, I believe:

    “Your task, Avaroo, is to disprove the contention that Carter took the correct actions in regard to Iran.”

    And finally, to return to the subject of my original post, isn’t the essential difference between Carter and Bush in regard to the Middle East the fact that Carter wasn’t a complete idiot, whereas Bush is?

    And on to substantive issues:

    “Even Carter no longer thinks he took the correct actions in regard to Iran.”

    Evidence?

    Which actions?

    What does he say he should have done?

    How does he explain his failure to take a more successful course of action?

    How do you test the sincerity of his later statements?

  13. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 08:59 | #13

    “This is action, not motivation.Y”

    No Avaroo, “bait and switch” doesn’t work.

    You have quoted yourself out of context. I’ll admit this is a novel tactic, but all the more egregious for that reason.”

    Please either try to justify your use of the word “means” as you used it, or acknowledge that you shouldn’t have used it.

    And on to substantive issues:

    “Even Carter no longer thinks he took the correct actions in regard to Iran.”

    Evidence?

    Which actions?

    What does he say he should have done?

    How does he explain his failure to take a more successful course of action?

    How do you test the sincerity of his later statements?

    And again, to quote myself, not out of context, I believe:

    “Your task, Avaroo, is to disprove the contention that Carter took the correct actions in regard to Iran.”

    And finally, to return to the subject of my original post, isn’t the essential difference between Carter and Bush in regard to the Middle East the fact that Carter wasn’t a complete idiot, whereas Bush is?

  14. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 09:15 | #14

    [Sorry about the partial double post above. I can't explain what happened.]

    Avaroo,

    “I’m not sure what you mean by “negotiableâ€?.

    I mean it in precisely the same way as it was understood by President George H. W. Bush in 1992 when he rejected the sentiments of the Earth Summit of that year. He asserted that Americans were entitled to as much oil and other non-renewables as they could consume. Let me assure you Avaroo that I have no personal moral qualms about that ambition. The secret is to construct policies that would enable the sustained achievement of that ambition.

    Bush Senior and Clinton did achieve that ambition.

    Bush Junior has failed miserably.

    You can look up Bush Senior’s quotation by Googling

    “American way of life is not negotiable”

    Interestingly, in 2001 Dick Cheney almost repeated the sentiment in his expression of Cheney/Bush administration policy on the issue.

    You can look up Cheney’s quotation by Googling

    “American way of life is non negotiable”

  15. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 09:24 | #15

    “No Avaroo, “bait and switchâ€? doesn’t work.”

    No bait and switch. This refers to action, not motivation.

    “Interestingly, Bush, who was never all that interested in foreign policy until 9/11, actually took the action that Carter, who was ONLY interested in foreign policy, while he ignored anything domestic, steadfastly refused to take.�

    “Which actions?”

    No actions, that’s the problem, Carter didn’t take any.

    “How does he explain his failure to take a more successful course of action?”

    He doesn’t.

    “And finally, to return to the subject of my original post, isn’t the essential difference between Carter and Bush in regard to the Middle East the fact that Carter wasn’t a complete idiot, whereas Bush is?”

    Not in my view. I’v already given you my view of the issue.
    The main difference between Jimmy Carter and GWB is that while both said that any attempt to gain control of the Persian Gulf would be considered an assault and dealt with accordingly, Carter didn’t really mean that he would take any action. GWB clearly meant that he would. Interestingly, Bush, who was never all that interested in foreign policy until 9/11, actually took the action that Carter, who was ONLY interested in foreign policy, while he ignored anything domestic, steadfastly refused to take. Even after US citizens were taken hostage in Iran. ”

    “He asserted that Americans were entitled to as much oil and other non-renewables as they could consume. ”

    I missed that. Could you please link to his actual quote?

    “Bush Senior and Clinton did achieve that ambition.”

    achieve what ambition?

    “American way of life is not negotiable�

    I agree.

  16. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 09:31 | #16

    Back on the subject of US oil consumption.

    This fairly well sums up my views. It’s from The American Thinker:

    “The simple truth is that our modern, industrial society would not be capable of functioning without copious amounts of inexpensive energy. Unless and until Americans eschew their fear of widespread nuclear power, the only viable source of this energy is oil.

    And despite the political instability in the Middle East and elsewhere, oil is still plentiful and cheap by any reasonable historical standards. That is why we continue to import so much of it from abroad, instead of developing additional, and more expensive, domestic energy sources.

    Finally, let’s not forget that politicians and policy analysts have been issuing dire warnings about America’s “addictionâ€? to foreign oil for at least three decades, and today we’re richer and more powerful than ever. So I think less rhetoric and more sober thinking is required before we start throwing even more taxpayer money at “alternativesâ€? to oil, such as solar, wind, hydrogen, etc. etc. etc.”

  17. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 09:37 | #17

    Avaroo,

    Here’s a helpful article on denial:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial

  18. avaroo
    February 3rd, 2006 at 09:52 | #18

    Try to stay on topic, if you’d like to talk. I’m not really interested in extraneous links that have nothing to do with what we were talking about.

  19. Stephen L
    February 3rd, 2006 at 16:31 | #19

    Getting back to earlier discussions – I see quite a few people here and other places I regularly read arguing for getting rid of tax deductions and in turn lowering the tax rate.

    I certainly think there are some tax deductions that should go, and others that might be of doubtful usefulness, but are people really serious about getting rid of *all* deductions.

    There are only two tax deductions I make much use of. Firstly I claim for charitable donations. Secondly I claim for work expenses for those aspects of my income where I am self employed.

    Getting rid of the 2nd would make no real difference – I’d just register as a business and claim these as expenses against profit.

    Getting rid of the first would mean a lot less money flowing to charity. Now naturally some of the people advocating these positions would not be worried if my donations to Friends of the Earth, for example, dried up. Some wouldn’t even care if Oxfam had to make do with far lower incomes. However, much of what charities do is necessary to a functioning society – less money to medical research, homeless shelters etc would either lead to much heavier costs down the road, or to the government being forced to step in and make up the difference.

    Are those advocating the 30/30 proposal, or some variation of this really keen to make charitable donations non-tax deductible? If not, are there other deductions they think should remain?

  20. Katz
    February 3rd, 2006 at 16:58 | #20

    Avaroo, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and interpret your elisions as deliberate disingenuousness rather than involuntary incapacity to follow a line of argument.

    Whatever the cause, at present a conversation with you is a dialogue with the deaf and therefore a waste of time.

    I’ll be interested to monitor your progress in conversations you may have in future on this blog with others. I may reopen communication with you when I detect an improvement either in your sincerity or in comprehension.

  21. February 3rd, 2006 at 18:54 | #21

    Stephen: As far as I know the 30/30 system aims to remove ALL deductions, in the name of simplicity. I doubt charitable donations would be affected that much – just about everyone would have more money left over after tax to give to charity if they so wished, especially the rich (who are the biggest givers).

    And there is a strong argument that organisations like Oxfam and The WWF and the like are not only charities but also political lobby groups, and as such they shouldn’t qualify for tax-exempt status anyway.

  22. Steve Munn
    February 3rd, 2006 at 19:49 | #22

    Comrade Yobbo says: “And there is a strong argument that organisations like Oxfam and The WWF and the like are not only charities but also political lobby groups, and as such they shouldn’t qualify for tax-exempt status anyway. ”

    I would suggest that there is a far stronger argument that right wing “stink tanks” like CIS and IPA, which refuse to declare who pays the piper, should lose their tax breaks and deductability of contributions.

  23. Stephen
    February 5th, 2006 at 21:33 | #23

    Oxfam Australia spends about 6% of its income on lobbying, with the rest (other than a fairly low level on administration) goes to feeding the starving, preventing AIDS/Malaria etc. The idea that they should lose their tax exempt status over a tiny portion like that is obscene (can’t speak for the WWF).

    A lot of people would give less money if donations were not tax deductible, and this would apply particularly in the sort of cases where people buy a new wing for a hospital or fund a research lab to cure some disease.

    I’m also not sure how “just about everyone would have more money left over after tax to give to charity if they so wished, especially the rich”. There might be some boost to the economy with a more efficient system better incentives etc but ultimately there have to be some winners and losers in such a change you can’t have “just about everyone having more money” once you allow for paying for all the things that were previously rebated, subsidised etc.

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