Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » March 2005 » A couple interesting items....

[« Gem o'the Day:] [How long can we stay in Iraq? »]

03/08/2005: A couple interesting items....


from the Enterprise Ethics Weblog. First, why are the services hiding the wounded?. The EEW points us to a Salon investigation which notes that the wounded from the Iraq war are being delivered to military hospitals in the dead of night, and only one reason seems to account for it:

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, said the nighttime-only arrivals of wounded, along with the restrictions on coffin photos and other P.R. tactics, are designed to hide from the public the daily flow of wounded and dead. "They do it so nobody sees [the wounded]," Rieckhoff said. "In their mind-set, this is going to demoralize the American people. The overall cost of this war has been continuously hidden throughout. As the costs get higher, their efforts to conceal those costs also increase."
Meanwhile, it seems that the U.S. is racing towards Third World status. The EEW also points us to an op-ed by Paul Krugman which notes, apropos of the bankruptcy "reform" bill poised to be enacted shortly, that we're seeing the first steps towards the return of "the debt peonage society":
But the underlying economic trends have been reinforced by an ideologically driven effort to strip away the protections the government used to provide. For example, long-term unemployment has become much more common, but unemployment benefits expire sooner. Health insurance coverage is declining, but new initiatives like health savings accounts (introduced in the 2003 Medicare bill), rather than discouraging that trend, further undermine the incentives of employers to provide coverage.

Above all, of course, at a time when ever-fewer workers can count on pensions from their employers, the current administration wants to phase out Social Security.

The bankruptcy bill fits right into this picture. When everything else goes wrong, Americans can still get a measure of relief by filing for bankruptcy - and rising insecurity means that they are forced to do this more often than in the past. But Congress is now poised to make bankruptcy law harsher, too.

Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.


Len on 03.08.05 @ 12:48 PM CST



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