The online comic strip XKCD perhaps summed it up best in saying, "Yes, from the evidence it looks pretty likely to me that we're causing global warming on a horrific scale. But with science you don't need to argue. It doesn't matter who wins the debate -- it's about reality.
"By just waiting a little longer, we'll get to see who was right. It feels unethical, but I find myself wanting to keep quiet about the science just to know for sure. As terrible as it sounds, the state of the world isn't really my responsibility. I'm just thrilled to get to watch.
"If the scientists are right -- and if we keep people from understanding just a little longer -- we'll enjoy quite a ride. And pragmatically, on the outside chance that they're all wrong, I get saved the embarrassment of having spoken up."
Dear OneAegis, That would certainly cross the line from legal but mischievous (though I prefer "thought-provoking") into illegal. Though it may well qualify as civil disobedience at that point, unlike wearing a kilt, traditionally.
Regardless, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to reading about your exploits should you organize a group to undertake this endeavor! Perhaps there is a local nudist colony that would be willing to volunteer?
Bravo, W.W.! While I am not bold enough to follow the kilt-wearing advice, I fully intend to loudly praise the efforts of my next screener as they fondle my bits in the hopes that this embarrassment is enough to encourage a re-examination of their chosen methods and profession. It may not be civil disobedience, but social discomfort is perhaps a step in the right direction.
Thank you all for your clarifications and thoughts. They are much appreciated.
E. B. Hansen,
Perhaps you do not track savings/investments that go into domestic unincorporated profit-making ventures. It could be a way to encourage investments in small business, providing an incentive to innovation and entrepreneurship.
I am still not sold on a consumption tax, but perhaps I am missing information or misunderstanding its implementation.
My understanding is that a consumption tax will over-tax the poor while under-taxing the wealthy. Low-income households spend near 100% of their income, resulting in nearly 100% of their income being taxes. As incomes rise, households begin to spend less than 100% of their income, resulting in less taxed income. While higher-income households will still pay more, numerically, in taxes, consumption taxes are inherently regressive.
This may reduce consumption and encourage savings, but that is little comfort to those households that, should they want to feed and shelter themselves, are unable to save at all.
Thank you for what is probably the best article introduction that I have read for some time. "It is not hard, if you really try, to find good things to say about America’s tea-partiers. They are not French, for a start." You have made my day. Bravo!
Not to drag down the intellectual vigor of this discussion, but the question of technology making war "cheaper" and less risky to fight is not new. It is one of the central premises of the Star Wars universe.
The Clone Wars, pitting a clone army against a droid army, were devastating to the galaxy, allowing "cheap" combat on a level never before experienced. This is why, while the new trilogy had clones and combat droids in abundance, the original trilogy had neither. After the atrocities of the Clone War, civilizations banded together to outlaw both cloning and combat droidery (a fine word, if I may say so myself) to increase the human "expense" of war and provide at least some deterrence to waging pointless and costly wars.
While our combat drones do not even begin to approximate this hypothetical situation, the concern remains. If the cost of lost lives is removed from the equation of waging war, combat and conflict are likely to become more palpable options, pushing diplomacy and compromise out of the picture.
The question we must ask is whether or not the saving of the lives of our countrymen outweighs the possible increase in combat across the globe. There is, sadly, no easy answer.
Why are you so spectacular, and why has it taken me so long to see your remarkable, dry, and razor-sharp wit? I sincerely apologize for any thoughts I ever had that combined "The Economist" and "stodgy" to your detriment.