Friday, September 25, 2009

Afghanistan Update

A while back I wrote that Obama needed to be honest with the American people:
2. We need billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure, education, and agricultural development (just to name a few) and a commitment of thousands of troops for decades if we want to get serious about an Afghanistan that looks like it belongs in the 20th century (much less the 21st).

General McChrystal's report basically calls for an "all-in" or "all-out" commitment--no middle ground.

David Brooks writes today:

"These are the realistic choices for America’s Afghanistan policy — all out or all in, surrender the place to the Taliban or do armed nation-building. And we might as well acknowledge that it’s not an easy call. The costs and rewards are tightly balanced. But in the end, President Obama was right: “You don’t muddle through the central front on terror. ... You don’t muddle through stamping out the Taliban.”

All-in or all-out. What will it be?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An example of why we have a health care cost problem

Related to yesterday's post and the article contained there.

I'm on the benefits committee for my university (I was appointed, I didn't ask). We're going to have a presentation by an insurance company on Monday. The company is going to buy us dinner afterwards. This is an example of an administrative, overhead cost that all of us pay for. Your higher premiums are going to buy a lot of people like myself dinner, in order to convince us that that we sign up for some insurance package that we'll pay too much for in order to provide dinner presentations for other potential customers.

I already feel dirty.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Must read article about health care

I just finished reading "How American Health Care Killed My Father." It's been picking up steam all over the blogosphere. David Brooks also quotes it a lot.

Read it NOW. Then email your congressman and tell him/her to read it.

Part of his solutions remind me of the Brad Delong plan... mandate all Americans save something (say, 15%) of their income into an HSA, with government providing catastrophic insurance as a backstop. Eliminate the insurance system as we know it and make individuals the customer rather than Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. That will create competition that doesn't exist currently and the entire health care system will become like everything else in a well-functioning market economy. Buying health care will be like buying groceries.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Awesome Business as Missions quote

Someone older and wiser told me this today:
"Deuteronomy 8:18 says 'But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.'

"If God is giving us the power to make wealth, and we're seeing poor people everywhere around us, then what are we doing with what God has given us?"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On Afghanistan

A couple years ago I asked on this blog what the strategy was, exactly, for the war on terror in Afghanistan. I'm still asking. One question I've asked for years is "How, exactly, is this not just like Vietnam?"

Joshua Foust has been pretty critical of the recent Afghanistan strategy, he's been trying to make sense of strategies for years.

Nick Kristof reveals some Afghanistan experts' analysis in his column today. "Nonsense" is one adjective used to describe U.S. policy.

George Will has come out in favor of withdrawal and has drawn criticism from the right-wing.

The arguments for staying in Afghanistan from people like Thomas Friedman look, to me, like this:
"There are some good things that have been done. Peace in cities, schools for girls, much more we can't leave yet or these 'triumphs' will become tragic stories rather than fragile glimmers of hope."

I think President Obama needs to be honest with the American people:
1. We will never eliminate the Taliban.
2. We need billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure, education, and agricultural development (just to name a few) and a commitment of thousands of troops for decades if we want to get serious about an Afghanistan that looks like it belongs in the 20th century (much less the 21st).

We need to do some serious marginal analysis. Does the marginal benefit outweigh the marginal cost of an additional soldier, an additional aid dollar, an additional day in Afghanistan? Because the sunk costs don't matter.

FWIW-- I'm for pulling out. Doing nothing is sometimes better than not doing everything that needs to be done and the NATO alliance clearly has shown no willingness to do that.

For any Christians interested, the underground Church in Afghanistan and Pakistan was very active (maybe even flourishing?) there before 9/11 and our large commitment. I'd talked to people who had seen it. Very very quietly, with no Western hands on it. So, if you're sad about the Western missionaries who will have to pack up and leave if we pull out, please remember that God works in His own ways, not ours.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Twitter got me a hat

This Hendrick Motorsports cap autographed by Rick Hendrick himself came FedEx to me today.
I won it this week via Twitter. Hendrick's twitter account gave away 10 hats to everyone who retweeted a Hendrick thread. I happened to be one of the first retweeters and got my name into a small pool and thus won on the first drawing.

Twitter has its positives and negatives--I don't hate it anymore but I have to be careful how I use it. It brought me a Hendrick hat so I was quite happy with it as this made my week fantastic. I have wanted a Hendrick clothing item of any kind for years. I would rather have Chad Knaus' signature but I'll take the boss man's any day.