Can We Afford the Iraq War?
A graduate of Amherst College, Joseph E. Stiglitz received his PHD from MIT in 1967, became a full professor at Yale in 1970, and in 1979 was awarded the John Bates Clark Award, given biennially by the American Economic Association to the economist under 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, MIT and was the Drummond Professor and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is now University Professor at Columbia University in New York and Chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. Stiglitz helped create a new branch of economics, "The Economics of Information," exploring the consequences of information asymmetries and pioneering such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only of theorists, but of policy analysts. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and he was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His most recent book, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict measures the war's opportunity cost to Americans.
Card: Can we afford the Iraq War?
Stiglitz: What we have been doing, as I say, is been borrowing totally to finance this war. In our book with Linda Bilmes, we estimated that the cost of the Iraq war will be over 3 trillion dollars. Some of these are budgetary costs, one and half two trillion dollars, some of it is cost born to our economy that goes beyond the budget. Cost of families and about a fifth of the families in which somebody has been seriously injured, somebody has to give up a job to care for the person who has been injured. And this war, has had a large number of very serious injuries. We estimate that over 40% of those returning from Iraq are coming back with disabilities and we will have to finance that. We have to pay for the healthcare, we have to pay for disability benefits, these… this is… these are numbers that are not yet included in our national deficit and our national debt. These are bills that are yet due. We estimate that that bill itself is in excess of 600 billion dollars. Since we did our book, since it went to press, new numbers are coming out from the [IB] study that shows that a third of the returning veterans are coming back with what I call invisible wounds, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress syndrome, serious depression. Again, huge costs that are going to be born by our society, by our economy, by our taxpayers so these are large costs. Now, the concern is that while the war is been very expensive and the President… the administration was not honest to us, when we went to war… Larry Lindsey was the Chief Economic Adviser at that time said it might cost a 100 or 200 billion dollars. He was rewarded for that [IB], you might say part honesty because, of course, it was a vast underestimate by being fired. The administration said, “Baloney, the total cost would be 50, 60 billion dollars,” we’re now spending that amount of money every three to four months up front, not including the cost of paying for the veterans, the disability benefits, not including the cost of resetting the military because we’ve been using up equipment much more rapidly than we’ve been replacing it. But the saddest part of all of this is that while we’ve been spending so much money, while this huge debt has reduced our room for maneuver to address, not only the economic crisis but a whole set of other social problems that we face, we haven’t even got security. What do we buy for this? Now, economists talk the economic opportunity cost. What we could have done with 3 trillion dollars, 2 trillion dollars, 4 trillion dollars, the mind boggles. The President talked about the problem, “Social Security might bankrupt our country,” he said. Well, the fact is, for about a sixth of the cost of the Iraq war, we could have put the Social Security System on sound financial grounds for the next 75 years or more. And we’ve created a gap, [IB] on disability that is equal to the gap that we had in Social Security. So, that’s just one example. The President said that, you know, America is one of the few countries that does not have financed healthcare for all its citizens… view that healthcare is our basic right and Congress passed a bill to provide healthcare for poor children who don’t have insurance, if they don’t get healthcare, they could be scarred for life. The President said that we could not afford them. We were talking about a few days of fighting in Iraq and we were willing to sacrifice our children for a few days of fighting in Iraq. But that’s the economic opportunity cost but there’s beyond that, the security opportunity cost. We aren’t buying security. The world is a big world out there, Iraq is a little small place in that global map. Even if we got security in Iraq, it doesn’t mean that we have global security and we’ve seen that. Things have been going worse in Afghanistan which was related to 9/11, Iraq was not related to 9/11. The death rate in Afghanistan is sure… is increasing. In fact, given the number of troops we have, the death rate now is actually greater than that in Iraq, the… adjusted for the number of troops. The… things are going badly in Pakistan. Conflict is expanding. So the point is that… that we haven’t bought the security that Americans want. The bottom line… you asked the question, can we afford the war? We can afford security, we can’t afford wasting money. We’ve been wasting money in Iraq, we’ve not been getting the security that we need, we’ve been wasting money more broadly in our military expenditures, and we’ve been spending with weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist. We still are… we’ve started fighting the war on terrorism, we didn’t cut back on the cold war expenditures. So, the fact that, you know, in the last 5 years, expenditures on military beyond the war on terrorism has increased half a trillion dollars. Now, the answer is can we afford this kind of [IB]? Well, some people are doing very well, [IB] stock has soared but can we as a country afford it? I don’t think so. I think we have to husband our resources, both if we want security and if we want a strong economy. If we don’t have a strong economy, we won’t have the resources to address, not only our security needs, but all our other needs.
Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on how the Iraq War contributed to the global economic meltdown.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.
The WashU electrolyzer<iframe src='https://mars.nasa.gov/layout/embed/model/?s=6' width='800' height='450' scrolling='no' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The WashU electrolyzer—it has no snappy acronym yet—will not be the first device capable of extracting oxygen from Martian water. That honor goes to the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/moxie/" target="_blank">MOXIE</a>, which is en route to Mars onboard NASA's <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/" target="_blank">Perseverance</a> rover. The rover was launched on July 30, 2020. It will arrive on February 18, 2021, and will perform high-temperature <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water" target="_blank">electrolysis</a> to extract pure oxygen, but no hydrogen.</p><p>In addition to being able to capture hydrogen, the WashU system can even do a better job with oxygen than MOXIE can, extracting 25 times as much from the same amount of water.</p><p>The new system has no problem with Mars' magnesium perchlorate-laced water. On the contrary, the researchers say it ultimately makes their system work better since such high concentrations of salt keep water from freezing on such a cold a planet by lowering the liquid's freezing temperature to -60 °C. He adds it may "also improve the performance of the electrolyzer system by lowering the electrical resistance."</p><p>Cold itself is no issue for the WashU system. It's been tested in a sub-zero (-33 ⁰F, or -36 ⁰C) environment that simulates Mars'.</p><p>"Our novel brine electrolyzer incorporates a lead <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0926337318311299" target="_blank">ruthenate pyrochlore</a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anode" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">anode</a> developed by our team in conjunction with a platinum on carbon <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode" target="_blank">cathode</a>," explains Ramani. He adds, "These carefully designed components coupled with the optimal use of traditional electrochemical engineering principles has yielded this high performance."</p>
Back home<p>"This technology is equally useful on Earth where it opens up the oceans as a viable oxygen and fuel source," Ramani notes. His colleagues forsee potential applications such as producing oxygen in deep-sea habitats with ample water available, such as underwater research facilities and submarines.</p><p>The study's joint first author Pralay Gayen says that "having demonstrated these electrolyzers under demanding Martian conditions, we intend to also deploy them under much milder conditions on Earth to utilize brackish or salt water feeds to produce hydrogen and oxygen, for example, through seawater electrolysis."</p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Pfizer's vaccine needs to be kept at -100°F until it's administered. Can caregivers deliver?
- Fair distribution of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is especially challenging because they need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.
- Back in 2018, the WHO reported that over half of all vaccines are wasted worldwide due to lack of cold storage, and they were only talking about vaccines that need to be chilled or kept at standard freezer temperatures.
- Real-time logistics data, location tracking, and information about movements are crucial to track shipment progress, product temperature and other conditions.