Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Archive for February 4th, 2007

Arise, ye cattle, anoint the shield

Posted by metaphorical on 4 February 2007

It’s tempting to think that the answer to the oppressively cruel cattle culture is for the cows to kill their owners—at least it’s easy to think that when it happens on two farms thousands of miles apart, on successive days, in Ohio (“Farmer killed by cow”), and New South Wales (“Woman dies after cow rams gate”).

The fact is, though, that these were probably the Little-House-On-The-Prairie type farms that are the least objectionable. Factory farms are run like concentration camps and there’s little opportunity for the tattoo’d prisoners to rise up against the guards. Up-close-and-personal family farms, on the other hand, where cows lead generally happy lives between occasional moments of terror and cruelty, are rife with opportunities for insurrection. That it doesn’t happen more seems proof that life there is generally good for both man and beast.

I feel badly for these families, who surely care for the animals in their charge, even as they separate parents from young.

My thanks to the Notmilkman for the links, even as we draw opposite conclusions from them.

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What would you do if you won the Iraq lottery?

Posted by metaphorical on 4 February 2007

It’s fun to imagine winning the lottery. What would you spend it on? The Iraq lottery is the money you would “win” if we weren’t spending billions on the deaths of thousands of U.S. soldiers and unknown thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians.

The first question in any lottery fantasy is, how much?

Back in September the Congressional Budget Office said we’re spending about $8 billion a month in Iraq. In January, it estimated we’ve spent $350 billion so far. And neither of those figures takes into account the 21,500 combat troops that are going over there on the Bush “surge” plan.

The CBO says that will cost $20-$27 billion for a year. Why so much? Well, don’t forget, as the president conveniently seems to whenever he talks about it, the 15,000 to 28,000 support troops needed as well, as MediaMatters notes. (That page also notes that for some reason the NY Times chose to use only the low end of that estimate.)

The Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and a colleague, Linda Bilmes, recently estimated the costs will be somewhere between $1 trillion (the “conservative” estimate) and $2 trillion dollars (the “moderate” estimate) for the National Bureau of Research.

So it’s not unreasonable to just ask, in very very very round numbers, what we could have done with half a trillion dollars if we didn’t spend our money on killing three thousand American soldiers and some much greater number of Iraqis?

Back in January, David Shuster was on Hardball discussing just that. Here are his thoughts:

To put the financial cost of the Iraq war into perspective, consider this—Congress is squabbling over whether to spend a billion dollars a year to screen all cargo in passenger airports. For the Iraq war, the U.S. government is spending a billion dollars every four days.

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