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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comparing Iraq and Social Security Taxpayer Refunds

Harland Harrison wrote:
HH) Perhaps Brian will also give each of his children a penny and say, "Your Social Security taxes will cover my retirement but run out on yours. This penny is all that I personally owe you." (HH
Social Security was designed from the very beginning as an inter-generational income-transfer scheme, with predictable results.  The first beneficiary, Ida May Fuller, paid in $49.50 over her last three years before retiring, and then collected $22,888.92 in benefits before she died.  Beneficiary ROI has been dropping steadily ever since, to the surprise of absolutely nobody.  Deposing Saddam wasn't an income-transfer scheme, and as for the predictability of its results, see below.

If you had read my links, you'd know that the Iraqi people are on record as not agreeing with your "vicious attack" characterization.  I repeat: In an Apr 2004 CNN/Gallup nationwide poll of Iraqis, 42% "said Iraq was better off because of the war", and 61% "said Saddam Hussein's ouster made it worth any hardships." In a nationwide poll of Iraqis completed in Mar 2004 for BBC by Oxford Research International, "56% said that things were better now than they were before the war".

One should distinguish between the 2003 effort to topple/capture Saddam, and the later Sunni-Shia civil war that boiled over in 2006. To lay the results of the latter on the doorstep of those who advocated the former, you have to provide evidence that:
  1. Somebody, somewhere, predicted that, despite a decade of stability in Kurdish Iraq under U.S. military protection, and despite the surprising success America had in deposing the Taliban, a sectarian civil war was likely to eventually undermine America's effort to liberate non-Kurdish Iraq -- a region much more secular, prosperous, and literate than Afghanistan.
  2. This predictable sectarian civil war was arguably permanently avoidable under some alternative U.S. course of action that had acceptable costs in terms of what evils Saddam and his sons committed or abetted (both in the region and against the West) during the rest of their tenure.
I searched hard for a prediction like (1), and came up empty:

I've never seen anyone even try to demonstrate (2).