Re: the finger of blame

James Rogers (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 22:05:26 -0800

At 08:17 PM 1/15/98 +0100, Erik Moeller wrote:
>James Rogers wrote:
>> Your first mistake was using a "conspiracy theory" book as your sole
>> historical reference.
>Col. L. Fletcher Prouty did several secret operations, served the
>CIA, Air Force and the National Security Council and was in personal contact
>CIA-Director Dulles, the Minister of Defense, the generals and the
>He was
>in the "Office of Special Operations" and from 1962 to 1963 he was
director of
>Operations" for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. One of the best
>references you can get for secret operations.

The thing about secret operations is just that -- they are secret. Using
one person's testimonial as a factual basis is unsound. And even if he was
a spook, that doesn't make his sole opinion the "Word of God" so to speak,
of secret operations.

>> Not only are your examples way out of context, but
>> irrelevant. Bell Helicopter was *the* vendor of helicopters to the
>> military *long* before the Vietnam (First delivery to the military in
>> 1946). Additionally, Bell was one of the most prominent developers of new
>> aerospace technologies from WWII through the Vietnam War (first American
>> jet powered aircraft, first aircraft to break the sound barrier, *the*
>> leader in helicopter technology, etc) and received numerous military
>> contracts during the time period prior to the Vietnam war. The founder of
>> Bell (Larry Bell?) died circa 1956, at which point the essentially
>> leaderless company became more or less for sale until they were finally
>> bought by Textron in 1960.
>I never contradicted anything in this paragraph.

Not directly. Instead you implied that they became successful using evil
"elite power" tricks instead of through innovation.

>> First National Bank had very little to do with
>> promoting a company who at the time was already considered to be the leader
>> in military helicopter technology.
>Microsoft was considered to be the leader in operating systems in 1992. Now
>what is it
>today? The super-leader? Capital accumulates, money goes where money is and
>only invest where they can make money. And First National made a lot of money
>with Bell/Textron. The helicopter war was an absolute waste of money and
>useless. Of 6415 deaths related to aircraft, 1792 happened in plane crashes
>and 4622
>in helicopters. Of these 4622 deaths, 1981 (43 %) occurred without any
>influence of the enemy. Prouty: "If you had an helicopter, you didn't need
>enemies anymore." Still,
>they were used in huge numbers. The US Army didn't know a lot, but they knew
>how this
>disaster could have been avoided. But they didn't want to avoid it -- it was
>part of the strategy.

You are mixing industrial economics with information economics, which
operate on very different principles. Industrial monopolies don't last
when they aren't government enforced. Information monopolies are much more
difficult to oust because the investments are severely front-loaded, and
ubiquity increases value. Microsoft is somewhere between and information
and industrial monopoly, and for this reason is much more difficult to
eliminate in the free market, although by no means impossible. While Bell
was a leader in its time, it is by no means as prominent now, despite a lot
of government support that you claim it received.

Your helicopter accident figures have no relevant context i.e. you don't
show how many lives were saved by increased mobility and the ability to get
troops out of a tight situation if necessary, all due to the helicopter.
This like saying car airbags kill people (they do), but then forgetting to
mention that ten times that number are saved by airbags. A net positive.

Incidentally, having helicopters are a *huge* advantage on the battlefield,
so the benefits far outweighed the costs associated with them at the time.

>Similar for the Eurofighter project running now. They officially pay DM 50
>billion (!!!)
>for it (without the weapon systems), and it's hopelessly overaged. I don't
>regret this (in fact I prefer inactive weapons) but it's a great present to
>those building it. Will probably cost them 10 % of what they earn with it.
>who pays this present? I do, with loan taxes and value added tax, which will
>be raised once again next year (while my potential pension will be decreased

I don't know how military contracting is done in Europe, but in the US
defense contractors are tightly regulated and audited. The profit from a
typical US military contract never exceeds 7%, often less depending on the
contract type. The small margins are made up for by volume of course, but
the huge margins aren't there. In fact, most US companies won't take
defense contracts because it is often not profitable do so due to the extra
overhead associated with them.

Having a pension is nice and all, but if you didn't rely on someone else to
provide it, you wouldn't have to worry about it, would you? Rather than
waiting for someone else to support me (i.e. Social Security) I have found
it far more prudent to take care of my own future. It is your fault if it
is an issue.

>You say: The government steals your money. But the government gives the money
>to those producing the Eurofighter (and other industries). It's just
>redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich -- some weird kind of
>Hood game. How blind must you be not to see this?

I agree with about half of it. It is indeed stupid and unjust for the
government to spend money on a net loss project like the Eurofighter, but
both the rich and the poor lose. Neither of them are getting the money
they put into the system. Eliminate taxes for these things, and both the
government and the rich are generally better off. And yes, a few rich
people probably do make money on the Eurofighter, but most of the rich
people are paying for it.

>> You shot yourself in the foot here. Boeing nearly went *bankrupt* after
>> WWII, as production of wartime products effectively stopped. Boeing bet
>> the entire company on the 707 whiched was successful enough to keep the
>> company going.
>You're right, they nearly went bankrupt after war. *After* war. Quoting from
>web site:
>"At the height of the war, Boeing was assembling 362 B-17s per month. Yet
>effort paled in comparison to production at North American, which built
>airplanes -- including more than 15,000 T-6 Texan trainers -- for an average
>of nearly 600 airplanes per month during World War II."
>While it ran, it brought the banks behind Boeing profit. Certainly. (Although
>I don't know who was behind Boeing at that time and whether they exited after
>the war - would be interesting.) Of course, when war is over and you've got
>all your factories running at warp speed, you'll get problems.

The problem is that war is not profitable in the US. In WWII, prices,
wages, production, profits, etc. were all strictly controlled by the
government to optimize wartime resource allocation. It is the strict
wartime regulation that destroys the businesses afterwards. If you don't
make profits when you ramp up production, you will suffer a significant net
loss when production stops. You can't afford to support vast manufacturing
facilities if they aren't being utilized at a significant profit. Too many
companies were forced to increase their facilities by the government, but
had no significant revenues to support them when the government stopped
buying war production. Most of the companies that grew large (like Boeing)
during WWII were funded by the government, either directly or indirectly.

>> Come to Silicon Valley
>> sometime and ask your average independant consultant. Even a "pseudo-free
>> market" like the Internet scares the hell out of government because it
>> devalues their power structures. But hey, they're in a postion to
>> legislate that nuisance away...
>We can make a little bet. Two bets, to be precise. Bet number one: E-commerce
>with cybercash will boom in the next two years. Bet number two: Mainly the
>(semi-)monopolies of today (who don't miss the train) will profit from it.

E-commerce already is big, and becoming bigger. I've been in and out of
e-commerce since '94, but it may surprise you to find out that it is as
profitable for individuals as it is for companies. Last year me and my
"partner in crime" made just over $100,000 in gross e-commerce revenues
(part-time) on a number of amusing little ventures intended to test the
current state of the e-commerce waters. We also made a pretty decent net
profit. And it isn't just us. We know and have met a lot of other people
who are making a very nice spot of cash on the Internet. More and more
people make a good living at it (we were doing it primarily for
fun/research). The nice thing about the Internet is that the admission is
*much* lower than traditional commerce structures.

I have more reservations regarding cybercash at the moment, due mostly to
transaction costs that they never seem to be able to get rid of.

>> Another example is the United States, where unemployment is at a record
>> lows attributed almost entirely to increased productivity in the economy.
>Yawn. Your record lows have been refuted so often, it's getting boring.
>you count the jobs. Second, the standard of living has decreased together
>the loans. Third, the accumulation of money has also increased. I have posted
>evidence for all of this before, but you will find it on my web page
>( in case you weren't there.

I am not going to waste my time arguing this, because it simply isn't true.
Several industries are faced with *negative* unemployment. I don't know
about standard of living (the definition is slippery), but violent crime is
way down, the cities are the cleanest they have been in a long time, and
most people can afford to buy more gizmos than ever. The only real
complaint I know of is that people are having to work longer hours to make
up for the labor shortage.

>> The only people who have to work harder are people too inflexible or too
>> stupid to work smarter. Average people would enjoy the benefits of
>> progress a great deal more if they spent more of their energy accustomizing
>> themselves to it rather than resisting it. Ability to adapt *is* an
>> evolutionary advantage.
>You have misunderstood me. I advocate many kinds of progress, from cloning to
>nanotechnology. Much is pointless, like cryo, but I'd like to see it develop
>anyway. It just has to be cleverly used. People are simply too uneducated. If
>we could educate the power elites, this would probably be good enough to
>ensure a better living.

The real problem is that most people will trade a long-term loss for a
perceived short-term gain.

>> In a free market economy, it is highly unlikely that all the major
>> industries would be making record profits and unemployment would be
>> increasing.
>I have the evidence around me. Our economy is as free as a bee (i.e. as free
>as the power elites want it to be). Darwinian selection doesn't work very
>since people have gained the ability to destroy each other in large numbers.

It is not nearly as free as the US. I do work for several European firms,
and many of the young, bright individuals in their IT departments complain
bitterly that they have been disallowed the opportunity to profit from the
tech industry. Most European countries have much stricter regulations
concerning small companies and startups than in the US. This has been
mostly imposed by legislation funded by the large European tech firms who
would rather not have the competition. And just to make the point, if
there wasn't a government available to create such legislation, those large
companies in question would be forced to compete rather than opting out

>> Too protect populations from people with power who don't have your high
>> moral standards? Actually, there is a rather large difference between
>> European militaries and the US military in general (which may be tempering
>> your view). In many European countries (Germany, for example) the military
>> is used as an auxiliary police arm of the government, many times quite
>> violently. This is simply not the case with the professional US
>> militaries, which have virtually no adversarial contact within the domestic
>> population.
>The military is rarely, if ever used as an auxiliary police arm in Germany.
>Most of the time it just sits around doing nothing. (They want to participate
>in the coming war in Bosnia, but it remains to be seen whether they'll be
>to do it. Our current defense minister won't take part in it, this is sure.)
>Still they buy weapons and cost us lots of money. I have to pay for this

The German military *is* used to supress "radical" factions within the
country, sometimes with unjustified deadly force. They are responsible for
dozens of deaths a year, but it never ends up in the media as far as I can
tell. The only reason I am aware of this is because US military units have
been involved on occassion. When I was in the Army (long story), we had a
few people in my platoon who had been in US Special Forces units in
Germany. The German military units they worked with would, on occassion,
neutralize (to a man!) "radical" and "terrorist" factions in the country.
Apparently this is not all that uncommon. I have another friend (also
Special Forces) who quit the Army after killing a man and a woman on one of
these missions (incidentally he was shot twice during that raid, but body
armor saved him). We have bureaucrats like the FBI to fulfill that role in
the US. The US military is for external affairs.

>I don't like that, but the less real government we have, the more I'll
have to

This makes no sense at all. One way or another, the government already
takes more than half of my money. If they took any more, I'd stop working.
I work too hard to have the government take my money and piss it away on
someone who undoubtedly does not deserve it.

-James Rogers