‘What is the Price of Freedom?’
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What is the price of freedom?, by James Choi: Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”? In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make great sacrifices in order to preserve our democratic way of life—sacrifices not just of our soldiers and money but of our personal safety and comfort? In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting? Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price? … What are the effects on the American idea of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, PATRIOT Acts I and II, warrantless surveillance, Executive Order 13233, corporate contractors performing military functions, the Military Commissions Act, NSPD 51, etc., etc.? Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? –David Foster Wallace, The Atlantic, on the trade-off between liberty and security.
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The Oklahoma Tornado Seen From Space (Video)
Big Think Editors
Wed, 22 May 2013 16:29:46 GMT
The larger answer here seems pretty clear to me too. Why do we have tax-exempt status for any political groups? Actually, why do we have tax-exempt status for any groups at all? It’s easy to be a non-profit — just don’t make any money. When you look at what a lot of “non-profits” do, how efficiently their money is used, the idea that we should be subsidizing most of them seems pretty silly. If we chucked out the whole tax-exempt business entirely, and allowed people to give money to any group they feel like giving it to without tax preference one way or another, the whole temptation for the IRS to hand out this subsidy in nefarious ways would vanish.
Epstein on the IRS and more
John H. Cochrane
Wed, 22 May 2013 16:44:00 GMT
While Assad is terrible and many of his neighboring nations and citizens want him gone, they also don’t want outsiders involved. US or European involvement won’t accomplish anything good.
Marc Lynch recently cited some interesting results from a Pew survey of public opinion on Syria in many countries:
In the most recent Pew survey, for instance, most Arabs expressed disdain for Assad — but large majorities opposed Western arming of Syrian rebels in every country polled except Jordan.
That finding suggests that outside interference is strongly opposed regardless of which party to an ongoing conflict might benefit from it. Most people in other Arab countries don’t want Western governments to provide weapons to the opposition:
Opposition to arming Syrian rebels remains strong no matter where the aid comes from. One might think that aiding an insurgency against Assad would be a popular option in some Arab countries when the aid is coming from Arab governments, but in fact the opposite is true. Arab government support for the Syrian opposition isn’t much more popular than Western support:
This is consistent with past surveys of regional opinion, which found little support for Arab-led interventions and even less support for Western intervention. Public opinion in the U.S., Europe, and Turkey is likewise heavily against arming the Syrian opposition:
The results from Turkey may be the most significant. While Syria hawks in the U.S. want to cite U.S. interests in allied security as a reason to intervene, a policy of backing the Syrian opposition militarily continues to be overwhelmingly unpopular in Turkey. Since most Turks are against having outside governments interfering in Syria, and previous surveys have shown strong opposition to Turkish involvement in the conflict, that makes it very unlikely that the Turkish government will endorse more aggressive policies in Syria. Greater U.S. involvement in Syria would be as deeply unpopular in Turkey as the Iraq war was, and the unpopularity of a Syrian war in Turkey would make it politically difficult for Erdogan to participate in such a war.
Public Opinion and Syria
Wed, 08 May 2013 19:08:44 GMT