Sunday, March 28, 2010


Post traumatic stress is a well known by product of mass massacres. A recent article describes the effect of Afghanistan on the warrior who brought down the Taliban - Andy Kubik.

In the olden wars, pre-WW1, the strategy creators and executors were substantially the same persons and experienced war in a visceral manner that shaped their thinking forever, eg Ashoka at Kalinga.

WW1 changed that. War was now an activity suitable for mass production. No longer was it necessary or practical for the thinkers and doers to be the same people. Napoleon was probably the last of the old warriors in the West.

The separation of the tactical fighting and killing from the strategic aspects of thinking and planning may be more efficient for the prosecution of the war but it short circuits the feedback loop from the battlefield to the command and control center.

The notable points are twofold:
  1. Modern rulers and elite learn precious little from the massacres they orchestrate, whether Mao, Stalin, Hitler or American Presidents.
  2. The fighters on the front go mad, bearing the burden of responsibility for events over which they have no real control.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The national deficit

[The public debt] does not have to be repaid, and in practice it will never be repaid.
That's the economics of reality, as opposed that of the textbooks. Quote from that article:
,,, foreigners do us a favor by buying our bonds. To acquire them, China must export goods to us, not offset by equivalent imports. That is a cost to China. It's a cost Beijing is prepared to pay, for its own reasons: export industries promote learning, technology transfer and product quality improvement, and they provide jobs to migrants from the countryside. But that's China's business.

For China, the bonds themselves are a sterile hoard. There is almost nothing that Beijing can do with them. China already imports all the commodities and machinery and aircraft it can use--if it wanted more, it would buy them now. So unless China changes its export policy, its stock of T bonds will just go on growing. And we will pay interest on it, not with real effort but by typing numbers into computers. There is no burden associated with this, not now and not later.
That concept is exactly the title of this blog!