DHS Releases RFP for Secure Border Initiative

The Department of Homeland Security has released a Request for Proposal -- that's the document asking industry if anyone can do what it wants -- for the Secure Border Initiative. Washington Technology has the story:

The long-awaited request for proposals for Secure Border Initiative-Net was released today by the Homeland Security Department, which is calling the project the "most comprehensive effort in the nation's history" to gain control of the borders.

The 144-page document outlines the purpose and scope of the border surveillance technology program, which supplements other efforts to control the border and enforce immigration laws.

Posted on April 19, 2006 at 7:12 AM • 54 Comments

Comments

BrandonApril 19, 2006 9:01 AM

So, homeland security continues to be a bloated mess. I hope it comes to the point congress kills that monster.

KashmarekApril 19, 2006 9:05 AM

Well, just look out for what they want to do with the ports. The headline or title tends to mislead from the real intent.

IgorApril 19, 2006 9:10 AM

@Brandon,
So, homeland security continues to be a bloated mess. I hope it comes
to the point congress kills that monster.

Unfortunately, highly unlikely for that to happen while this congress is
still around, given their 'track record'.

TankApril 19, 2006 10:14 AM

How about building a replacement for the Panama canal along the Mexican border.

Economic benefits from construction contracts, employment and ongoing shipping fees.

Physical traversal could be contained to fixed bridges allowing more managable control. Maybe some pirahnas or something for the water itself but that can be worked out later.

Catapault entry is still a concern there so best install a whole series of football end-zones across the US side. The ones with the extendable nets that stop the ball going too far on the kicks.

After that maybe an interlocking chain of Walmarts to intercept any immigrant labour that still makes it through.

Oh and throw in a couple of geiger counters and some "We've got our eye on you too Canadians" leaflets cause we all know its not just about targetting Mexicans to shore up the right-wing base.

There are some real national security benefits too. Do you know how much of a pain it is to develop undetectable nuclear submarines only to have to tell Panama every time you want to switch oceans.
Sometimes they won't even let them through, they make a game of it like "What we can't see any sub here" and we say "it's there just let it through" and they say "we can't see it they have to surface" and we say "no" and they say "you must" and we say "but people will see us" and they say "who" and we say "al Qaeda will see us" and they say "al Qaeda has no navy which is why only people to scared to go to Iraq join the navy these days" and we say "oh yeah we really should look at cutting the budget for the Navy and fund more useful military programs" and then they let us through. It happens every time. It is a terrible arrangement and frankly humiliating.

But boy do our sailors clean up when they go to Vegas. You don't play cards for 10 hours a day in the war on terror and come out with nothing to show for it. Now where was I....

...Right the moat. Now I know what you're going to say, pirahnas won't survive in the salt water and people will swim across. Well I've got 6 words for you nay sayers:
If they float they're a terrorist.

AGApril 19, 2006 10:40 AM

This may seem like a stupid question;

Why not hire illegals as they try to cross the border to be guards?

They work hard, cheap, and there are always fresh recruits.

They are coming for a job right? Give them a job.

I bet it would be cheaper than the huge security monster we are going to try and build... that will fail of course.

albertApril 19, 2006 11:13 AM

@AG:

Clever idea. The main trick with that approach would be preventing corruption, but if you could somehow watch and incentivize such border guards, (by, for example, granting them citizenship and unionizing them) so that they would/could do the job effectively, it could work.

And, for that matter, if the government ever gets the funding and logistics together to lengthen the wall at the border, we all know where they'll get the laborers ...

Arturo QuirantesApril 19, 2006 11:29 AM

@ Tank

If not piranhas, how about giant squids? Seems like they have some interesting security properties (or why do they show up in this forum day in day out?). You could also unleash them into the Canal next time those pesky Panamanians start making questions about nuclear subs.

TomApril 19, 2006 11:40 AM

>Why not hire illegals as they try to cross the border to be guards?

That was the solution employed by the Roman Empire. It worked for a while.

Clive RobinsonApril 19, 2006 11:43 AM

@Tank,

It's not such a bad idea, afterall the current Panama is not capable of taking the larger ships that are around these days.

If might also be more cost effective than giving aid to the Panama Gov to do the widening of "their" canal...

Also the Mexican Gov might see pluss points as well and be interested in investing. Afterall do they realy need all those teenagers coming down at the weekends getting drunk etc and giving ideas and itchy feet to their own teenage population...

FredApril 19, 2006 12:53 PM

@Clive R:
"If might also be more cost effective than giving aid to the Panama Gov to do the widening of "their" canal..."

Length of the US/Mexican border: 1951 miles.

Length of the Panama Canal: 51 miles.

I'm not certain how we'll get savings at a 38-fold additional cost in length, along with the difference in draft (0 ft vs 41 ft), and the difference in Width (0ft vs 110 ft). I'd think that buying Panama (i.e. the entire country) might be cheaper :-)

AGApril 19, 2006 1:02 PM

On a fun note;
We could also ban the brewing and sale of Tecate. Without Tecate the illegal immigrant population would dehydrate and face the choise of withering away or going back to Mexico to get beer.

AGApril 19, 2006 1:07 PM

On the giant wall and moat ideas...

How do you let the illegal immigrants out? Wont they be stuck here if we close everything up?

aikimarkApril 19, 2006 1:34 PM

Reduce the incentive to cross the border by 'developing' some part of Mexico, preferably in the southern part of the country, that will employ an entire generation of would-be border crossers.

Once we've reduced the flow across the border, it will be much cheaper and feasible to restrict the flow, not to mention politically possible.

Then the American populace can experience their (desired) lives without cheap labor.

After all...why should we create a condition of full employment with liveable wages in this country when we can do it in another country?!?

a.April 19, 2006 2:33 PM

I think America was a lot safer place before.
Before 1492 that is.
Before the Europeans "discovered" it.
Before they imported a bunch of slaves from Africa, and a lot of religiously 'diverse' people. ...
As if any of the people imported as merchandise in the times of slavery had all the H2-B, K-130 or whichever forms they need ....
So now close the borders to protect .. from the same people? Oh well.

AGApril 19, 2006 2:41 PM

@a.
That is not fair, Native Americans and Native Central Americans took slaves from their enemies and stole people for ritual sacrifice.

Let alone it has little to do with the topic at hand.

BennyApril 19, 2006 3:40 PM

One could easily imagine big businesses, who do not wish to be deprived of their dirt-cheap laborers, conspiring to sabotage the Secure Border Initiative by making it as inefficient and bloated as possible.

That didn't come out as funny as I intended it to be.

In all seriousness, what's supposed to be the main rationale for this project? Is it about homeland security? Or is it about immigration, which this thread has started to fixate on?

ProbitasApril 19, 2006 3:58 PM

"In all seriousness, what's supposed to be the main rationale for this project? Is it about homeland security? Or is it about immigration, which this thread has started to fixate on?"

IMHO, it's actually about Congress being able to say they are doing something about both of those issues, while actually addressing neither. 2000 miles of walls, fences, barbed wire and broken glass would have done nothing to stop the WTC bombers; there is no real reason to believe it would stop the next generation. The reason the measure can readily be sold to the general public is that we are so ready to believe it will address the immigration problem. Thus satisfied, we sheep will wander out and vote them into office for one more term. Then the wall will have served it's only real purpose.

AGApril 19, 2006 4:00 PM

@Benny
It's about "ignore the man behind the curtain."

As America and as Americans we have failed in Iraq, not caught Bin Laden, blown our budget to the sky, let our fellow citizens in New Orleans drown, and many more I'm sure I am missing.

As a freely elected democratic country the problems that we face and how we face them are OUR Problems and Our Solutions good or bad/Take it or Leave it.
Not Bushs, not Al Quada, not immigrants, not schools, not gas prices... you, I, and every other American equally responsible for the mess WE have made.

You ask "Is it about homeland security? Or is it about immigration" I think it is about finding a scapegoat, any scapegoat.

We are the man behind the curtain and the world is taking off their emerald glasses and forcing us too also... and we do not like what we see.

TankApril 19, 2006 10:45 PM

On the giant wall and moat ideas...
How do you let the illegal immigrants out? Wont they be stuck here if we close everything up?
Posted by: AG at April 19, 2006 01:07 PM

The end-zone nets would be controlled on the US side so north-to-south catapaulting can be accomplished when desired.

Davi OttenheimerApril 19, 2006 11:26 PM

"maybe an interlocking chain of Walmarts to intercept any immigrant labour that still makes it through"

Funny, but WalMarts are a giant vortex calling for illegal immigrants, no?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/04/...

"undercover surveillance shows Wal-Mart executives and store managers knew illegal immigrants were cleaning stores"

http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/18/news/fortune500/...

"A raid by federal, state and local authorities at a Wal-Mart Stores construction site in Pennsylvania netted about 125 arrests for alleged immigration violations."

WalMart tries to blame their subcontractors, but I wonder what happens when you join the other illegals in a parking lot without ID. You might just find out for yourself whether someone also will give you money to spend a day working in WalMart.

In other news, it appears some self-described US citizen "militias" are proposing to build a fence themselves along the Mexico border:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/border_fence_minuteman

"'We have had landowners approach,' Simcox said in an interview. 'We've been working on this idea for a while. We're going to show the federal government how easy it is to build these security fences, how inexpensively they can be built when built by private people and free enterprise.' [...] Simcox said those involved in the planning hope to keep costs to between $125 and $150 a foot."

That's just $1,287,660,000 to $1,545,192,000 of taxpayers money for a big ditch, cameras and some wire that would probably do little or nothing to stop illegal immigration. It took them how long to think this up? Besides, I'm sure WalMart would bristle at the suggestion that anyone could build something more cheaply then they could; I mean are the workers illegal if they're working *on* the border itself?

Hmmm, this actually is starting to sound like the Panama Canal. Ok, Tank, I think you're onto something here.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 4:05 AM

"Reduce the incentive to cross the border by 'developing' some part of Mexico, preferably in the southern part of the country, that will employ an entire generation of would-be border crossers."

Why not stop sending taxpayer's money to bail out their corrupt socialist government? Why not stop giving their government resources to oppress their people.

"Once we've reduced the flow across the border, it will be much cheaper and feasible to restrict the flow, not to mention politically possible."

Uhm, any time you use force to restrict something - you get more of it! Why? because you create a profit incentive for corruption, you restrict the supply of drugs, which further raises the incentive (profit) of getting it in.

"Then the American populace can experience their (desired) lives without cheap labor."

Hmm, cheap labor creates cheaper products - which is attractive to poorer people. Cheap labor brings it's own demand as well - creating rises in real wages for those that serve this demand. Your economic ignorance reduces the standard of living for everyone - both immigrants and residents.

"After all...why should we create a condition of full employment with liveable wages in this country when we can do it in another country?!?"

Brilliant - because foreign aid to Africa and Micronesia has worked so well over the last 40 years - why don't we impose taxpayer funded despotism in Mexico as well?

That will certainly make US & Mexican citizens better off, right?

- No -

The solution to the immigration problem is as follows: Get rid of all welfare programs, government bailouts, the federal reserve, all past immigration policies, public schooling, and legalize drugs. The more you get rid of the better, all the way down the line.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 4:27 AM

"As America and as Americans we have failed in Iraq, not caught Bin Laden, blown our budget to the sky, let our fellow citizens in New Orleans drown, and many more I'm sure I am missing."

It doesn't seem to me that we want Bin Laden caught. It seems to me a great way to abridge our liberties - 9/11 is the The Maine, The Lusitania, and Pearl Harbor of our time. If we wanted to catch him - we would have put 50 million bucks on his head, before sending ANY troops.

We let New Orleans citizens drown? Hmm, I don't remember pressing my foot on their head below water.

"As a freely elected democratic country the problems that we face and how we face them are OUR Problems and Our Solutions good or bad/Take it or Leave it.
Not Bushs, not Al Quada, not immigrants, not schools, not gas prices... you, I, and every other American equally responsible for the mess WE have made."

What a bunch of collectivist mumbo-jumbo. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for dinner, what the hell does that have to do with individuals who took no part?

What? Because I had my money stolen from me by a chosen set of people, who make false promises and have no incentive to do a good job (remember in government: failure is success), I am somehow responsible?

"We are the man behind the curtain and the world is taking off their emerald glasses and forcing us too also... and we do not like what we see."

Indeed, I don't like what I see, but most people are not the men behind the curtain (government and it's closest contractors is only like 20% of US population). Luckily most people are not blood-sucking leaches working overtime to fuck productive people (and their children) over.

averrosApril 20, 2006 4:33 AM

> Why not stop sending taxpayer's money to
> bail out their corrupt socialist government?

Why not stop sending taxpayers money to bail out OUR corrupt socialist govenment?

;)

AnonymousApril 20, 2006 4:47 AM

"The solution to the immigration problem is as follows: Get rid of all welfare programs, government bailouts, the federal reserve, all past immigration policies, public schooling, and legalize drugs. The more you get rid of the better, all the way down the line."

Mmmh, that has been done alraedy. Its called neoliberal economics, and NO, it is not the answer either. In fact, anybody claiming to have "THE SOLUTION" of the immigration problem is either deluded or selling snake oil.

Now, with respect to the doc... The scope seems incredibly overarching:

"Develop a highly reliable, available, maintainable, and cost effective solution(s) to manage, control and
secure the border using the optimal mix of proven current and next generation technology, infrastructure,
personnel, response capabilities and processes that will:
a. Detect entries when they occur;

b. Identify what the entry is;

c. Classify its level of threat (who they are, what they are doing, how many, etc) (Note: this element
must be met prior to the point of interdiction/encounter by law enforcement personnel);

d. Effectively and efficiently respond to the entry; and bring the situation to the appropriate law
enforcement resolution."

And the killer:


"CBP will establish an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that will allow for performance-based task
and delivery orders."


Looks like a money black hole to me.

averrosApril 20, 2006 4:59 AM

> Mmmh, that has been done alraedy.

Inquiring minds want to know when exactly was anything like that done?

Yes, I agree, this is a money black hole. Just like any other government initiative.

Clive RobinsonApril 20, 2006 7:27 AM

@Fred

"I'm not certain how we'll get savings at a 38-fold additional cost in length"

Ahh but you don't understand the Gov ;)

One of the undisclosed aims of the Iraq war (or whatever name you like) was to incresse defence spending (which it did dramaticaly). The idea being that the money would appear on the US streets and re-vitalise the US economy as it did with WWII (highest home economic growth period) and other lesser wars of the later half of the last century.

Unfortunatly unlike the past it did not as most of the money disapeared (presumably off shore)...

So what as the US Pres. do you do next well you have a look at history again...

Do you remember the Great Depression (no me neither I'm to young just ;) but supposedly what brought it to an end was a "civil building" policy for roads dams etc this put money into the bottom end of the economy via farmers turned labours etc.

So Iraq is a bit of a failier as far as kick starting the US economy is concerned, so why not build your own Panama cannal, it would probably be the largest construction project of the current centry.

It has the potential to put a lot of money into the bottom of the economy if you do it right. Therby giving the US economy a nice little boost back to the good old days when the US$ had real spending power abroad...

Unfortunatly the current incumberent's current track record does not hold out much hope that he/they will get it right, but hey no harm in trying, as long as your friends get rich ;)

Hey no flames please hell is quite warm enough as it is ;)

Robert PaigeApril 20, 2006 8:04 AM

FYI, there was a big scandal a year ago about how a contractor really screwed up the installation of cameras on the border. Google "border camera system".

MikeApril 20, 2006 9:29 AM

Nice to see the un-communists, er, libertarians, trotting out their fix all for every problem - destroy the state, get rid of government and everything will be all sunshine and roses and we will all sing kumbaya and hold hands when the evil state has been eradicated.

I guess if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Bruce SchneierApril 20, 2006 10:48 AM

"> Why not stop sending taxpayer's money > to bail out their corrupt socialist
> government?

"Why not stop sending taxpayers money to bail out OUR corrupt socialist govenment?"

I liked it better when words like "socialist" and "fascist" had actual meanings, and weren't just random perjorative terms.

HarroldApril 20, 2006 11:02 AM

@quincunx

Americans are responsible because they elect their representatives and are not enslaved (yet) by them.

Most Americans do not even vote, by a large majority, so they have simply buried their heads in the sands and then complain if the outcome isn't to their desire.

Most Americans make no effort to understand policy issues.

In democracy, the rulers are the people, not the representatives. If you allow them to become your ruler, then you are at fault.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 12:19 PM

"Mmmh, that has been done alraedy. Its called neoliberal economics, and NO, it is not the answer either."

Tried already, where? Every administration in the 20th century increased the size of government. You must not be familiar with deficit financing.

What's up with the polylogistic "neoliberal economics" - there is only one economics. It works in all times and places.

"In fact, anybody claiming to have "THE SOLUTION" of the immigration problem is either deluded or selling snake oil."

Not really. If I told you a broom would help you clean the floor - would you call me a snake oil seller?

Any thinking mind can see that creating a welcome wagon (welfare) and enforcing the borders strictly would create profit opportunities to evade border patrol.

This is actually kind of funny - I wonder if the government is trying to sell Snake Oil - surely the criticism applies to them as well, oh except you have no choice but obey.

"Nice to see the un-communists, er, libertarians, trotting out their fix all for every problem - destroy the state, get rid of government and everything will be all sunshine and roses and we will all sing kumbaya and hold hands when the evil state has been eradicated."

Well we certainly wouldn't have 40+% of our private property expropriated. You make the stupid assumption that there would be no security and protection NOT under a monopoly. You haven't taken a minute to disprove Hobbes.

You can sing kumbaya if you want to.

"I guess if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

I guess if you can't think logically and rationally by looking at the facts (past and present) - then every solution is government. What, you really think border patrol will work better than the alcohol prohibtion, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on health, and the war on illiteracy?

"I liked it better when words like "socialist" and "fascist" had actual meanings, and weren't just random perjorative terms."

I think the words are perfectly appropriate. Why don't you think so?

"Americans are responsible because they elect their representatives and are not enslaved (yet) by them."

More collectivist mumbo-jumbo. Look, if a slave can pick among his masters, is he still a slave?

"Most Americans do not even vote, by a large majority, so they have simply buried their heads in the sands and then complain if the outcome isn't to their desire."

You vote for people - not laws. The politicians are not bound by anything (yes, not even the constitution - we haven't followed that dead letter for quite a while).

"Most Americans make no effort to understand policy issues."

Yes, but some Americans know that everything the government touches makes it worse. And they try to spread the message to any thinking person that hasn't been totally paralized by their government schooling (which seems to always be pro-government, strange eh?).

Let me ask you, do you think you know policy issues? Or do just look at the nice title of a bill like "Do something nice Bill", but really equates to appropriating more money, increasing the money supply and handing it out to friends of the state. Every bill is like that.

"In democracy, the rulers are the people, not the representatives. If you allow them to become your ruler, then you are at fault."

More collectivist mumbo-jumbo. What the hell are you talking about? I would not be responsible for the actions of other people electing a person who didn't follow the rules.

AnonymousApril 20, 2006 1:58 PM

"Tried already, where? Every administration in the 20th century increased the size of government. You must not be familiar with deficit financing"

I will grant you that your proposition, letter by letter, has not been tried yet. With good reason. That does not invalidate previous experiences around the world where implementing neoliberal policies did not decrease immigration flows to a point where they were more manageable. On the contrary, usually they experienced increases.

"What's up with the polylogistic "neoliberal economics" - there is only one economics. It works in all times and places."

Touche.

"Not really. If I told you a broom would help you clean the floor - would you call me a snake oil seller?"

You see, it depends on the floor as well. A broom that cleans a dirt floor would be completely useless if we were talking about a cleanroom. In the same spirit, there is no silver bullet to what is potentially the most complex social problem facing the developed world today. Or maybe you are right, we are all wrong and in the end you will receive a Nobel prize.

Yeah.


"Any thinking mind can see that creating a welcome wagon (welfare) and enforcing the borders strictly would create profit opportunities to evade border patrol."

Indeed. However, welfare is not the only differential driving immigration. In fact, it is very possible that the problem cannot be fully understood from a purely economical standpoint, and that cultural tensions will prove to be at least as important as economic motives.

AGApril 20, 2006 2:28 PM

@quincunx
I am pretty good at playing the devil's advocate, but after reading your post 5 times I really have no idea what you are taking about.
What is your point?

quincunxApril 20, 2006 2:49 PM

"That does not invalidate previous experiences around the world where implementing neoliberal policies did not decrease immigration flows to a point where they were more manageable."

Where? What are you talking about?

I don't care about neoliberal policies. You are placing a term that doesn't apply to me. And certainly you place a term on things that never happen. Although it's support promote it in opinion - they NEVER act out the better aspects of it in practice (REALLY!). Neoliberalism is a hodge-podge philosophy not built on any sound principles. It contradicts itself at every step.

" In the same spirit, there is no silver bullet to what is potentially the most complex social problem facing the developed world today."

It's only a social problem because previous government intervention has caused it. There is no problem with immigration as long as it's private people dealing with private people. Who are you to say how other people can act?

"Or maybe you are right, we are all wrong and in the end you will receive a Nobel prize."

Why don't you disprove to me how the snake oil salesmen analogy is not applied to government action.

" In fact, it is very possible that the problem cannot be fully understood from a purely economical standpoint,"

Economics is built on the understanding of human action. How can the immigration not be an economical problem? They are oppressed by their government, they are attracted to free programs, they are attracted to better living standards, or all of the following - all human action is economic - from the subjective view of the individual engaged in it.

"I am pretty good at playing the devil's advocate, but after reading your post 5 times I really have no idea what you are taking about."

You have a skewed understanding of the nature of government and democracy - which leads you to make silly statements that logically don't hold up to scrutiny.

TankApril 20, 2006 2:55 PM

"I mean are the workers illegal if they're working *on* the border itself?

Hmmm, this actually is starting to sound like the Panama Canal. Ok, Tank, I think you're onto something here.

Posted by: Davi Ottenheimer at April 19, 2006 11:26 PM"

That's why the Walmart barrier works. Border towns are already a write-off, the idea should be to not let them get any further.

Who has got a better solution for containing illegal immigrants that do slip through the nets than trapping them on the border for a couple of years while they work their way up the corporate ladder at WalMart. Just a couple of years, honestly.

TankApril 20, 2006 3:14 PM

Quote: "Uhm, any time you use force to restrict something - you get more of it! Why? because you create a profit incentive for corruption, you restrict the supply of drugs, which further raises the incentive (profit) of getting it in."

The primary market force for drugs isn't anti-drug measures. It is supply and demand. The same as for everything else.

If you beef up security on the border it may very well inflate up the price of drugs as supply will be restricted while demand is not. Hence the market corrects via price.

The difference between your example and what is being discussed here is there is nobody in the US willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a pound for poor Mexicans should this labour supply become restricted.

AnonymousApril 20, 2006 3:26 PM

@quincunx:

I have nothing to prove. We will have to agree to disagree, I am not an evangelist.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 4:08 PM

@Tank

Somewhat correct on the economics, but you forgot to mention that high prices of drugs will induce people to go into it to earn high profits, which will increase supply again, and the cycle begins anew. Which is why wasting money enforcing it does absolutely nothing to reduce its supply, and price in the long run. All it accomplishes is locking people up for non-violent crimes, as well as all the second hand effects of people committing crimes to pay for their artificially expensive addiction.

You also forgot to mention that just making it illegal and enforced causes a reduction in supply (out of fear of persecution) - that is despite border security.

"The difference between your example and what is being discussed here is there is nobody in the US willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a pound for poor Mexicans should this labour supply become restricted. "

Hah! Well first of all you are forgetting that the Mexicans themselves will pay to get in with whatever money they have. Second, the border guards will have an incentive to be corrupt. Thirdly, it just provides the incentive for Canadians to transport them by boat, and then have them cross the US-Canada border.

You also forget that it will be another government boondoggle, that will just waste taxpayer money, and create further deficit funded by foreigners - paid out by you and your children. Which will make the US even less competitive - and cause capital flight to Asia.

And the most important - it will further accelerate outsourcing and relocating by US companies to Mexico.

Such is the effect of all protectionist measures of the past, just as economic theory would predict.

So keep dreaming...

"I have nothing to prove. We will have to agree to disagree, I am not an evangelist."

Well if you share your opinion, you have to pretty much back it up with logic and facts - otherwise you're just expressing 'preferences' not reality.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 4:38 PM

@Tank,

Giving it some more thought, I wouldn't be surprised if domestic drug producers should be all for this program. They should stand up and cheer, the government is doing something nice for them.

Davi OttenheimerApril 20, 2006 5:48 PM

"Well if you share your opinion, you have to pretty much back it up with logic and facts - otherwise you're just expressing 'preferences' not reality."

pot kettle black?

TankApril 20, 2006 7:08 PM

Quote: "You also forget that it will be another government boondoggle, that will just waste taxpayer money, and create further deficit funded by foreigners - paid out by you and your children. Which will make the US even less competitive - and cause capital flight to Asia."

Actually I don't pay US taxes and I didn't "forget" that this project will involve countless billions of dollars outlayed for very little security benefit.
I think you will find that is the entire point.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 7:13 PM

"pot kettle black?"

All I've got is 250+ years of economic theory and 4000+ years of history. That's the criteria I use. I tend not to go for quick patches that have been known not to work - rather than rely on wishful thinking with multiple conditions like having the right people in charge, the right amount of funding, the specific top-down approach, etc. This makes it simple to spot grandiose plans that purport to solve a problem, but neither solve them but exacerbate them and create several new ones in the process.

It just seems silly to me to criticize one group - yet not see that the same criticism applies to the other, under even stricter conditions, and then avoid trying to explain why that is so.

Bruce SchneierApril 20, 2006 8:03 PM

"All I've got is 250+ years of economic theory and 4000+ years of history."

I have no idea what you guys are talking about, nor do I want to go back and figure it out.

But it worries me a lot when someone makes comments like that, ignoring the significant difference that technology makes to economic theory. A lot of stuff just isn't the same anymore.

quincunxApril 20, 2006 8:47 PM

"But it worries me a lot when someone makes comments like that, ignoring the significant difference that technology makes to economic theory. A lot of stuff just isn't the same anymore"

Property rights has changed?

Government is no longer a monopoly of force?

Technology doesn't change economic theory. Otherwise, economics would be worthless.

Economics will tell you what conditions are required to develop and disseminate technology (freedom). It will tell you how wealth is destroyed and progress is stymied under various government edicts.

Can you tell me how things have changed? Have people stopped acting? Have people desired to get the most for least effort? Has marginal utility been removed by technology?

If anything, technology has shown that anything short of self-regulated free-market anarchy impedes human progress. (along with technological potential) We can finally remove the shackles, end the age of barbarism, and begin civilization.

averrosApril 21, 2006 12:47 AM

> I liked it better when words like "socialist" and
> "fascist" had actual meanings, and weren't
> just random perjorative terms.

Bruce, my usage is not random. In fact, I spent enough time living in a socialist country (and became successful enough "builder of communism" to merit one of the top government awards) to actually know what I'm speaking about. And to have a baseline for comparisons.

US is quickly becoming a socialist country. Not as much communist-socialist as national socialist (aka "fascist").

Here's the definition of fascism from the American Heritage Dictionary: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

This is the apt description of the current regime. Definitely nationalistic, definitely belligerent, definitely led by the extremely right guys who don't even bother to hide their business tie-ins.

Unfortunately, the only solid opposition to the fascist party (aka "republicans") is the communist party (aka "democrats"). None of them cares about individual rights or reducing the state interference in virtually everything.

Pat CahalanApril 21, 2006 10:52 AM

@ Bruce

> I liked it better when words like "socialist" and "fascist" had actual
> meanings, and weren't just random perjorative terms.

Hear, hear. One of the problems with the anonymous Internet.

@ quincunx

We probably shouldn't hijack yet another thread to talk about economics, but fwiw I agree with Bruce -> Adam Smith wrote a good book, but it is almost 300 years old now. Economics is a science, not a religion, and like other sciences builds upon itself. Biologists don't sit back an stop studying evolution because Darwin settled it all already.

Property rights are definitely different now. Intellectual property rights *still* aren't well defined.

Government is no longer a monopoly on force (if it ever was) -> the conflict in Iraq isn't between the US government and the Iraqi government. The "other side" (whether you want to refer to it as a "rebellion" or "insurgency" or whatever) is not a governmental entity.

Anyway, if you want to discuss it in email or on a economic/political blog, let's take it up there, not here.

quincunxApril 21, 2006 1:12 PM

@Pat

" fwiw I agree with Bruce -> Adam Smith wrote a good book, but it is almost 300 years old now."

Adam Smith did have some good contributions, but honestly he was quite terrible. He and Ricardo are responsible for propounding the labor theory of value that was the basis of Marx's BS.

"Economics is a science, not a religion,"

Economics is the logic of human action - this might be confusing to understand because this science has been subverted by government subsidized economists in favor of property rights violation, that use statistical abstract models apart from the real world.

Perhaps you are not aware that the sole existence of a state is based on some intellectual confirmation. In order for it to exist - intellectual bodyguards must always stand up for it. It used to be the clergy - today it's practically everyone on the government payroll, or contractors.

"and like other sciences builds upon itself. Biologists don't sit back an stop studying evolution because Darwin settled it all already."

They refine the science. They are not disputing evolution. Darwin, btw, was not even the first to suggest it.
Basic Economic theory is pretty much established, there is no need to perform statistical regressions in a parallel world scenario to disprove a simple theory (which is what they do today).

"Property rights are definitely different now. Intellectual property rights *still* aren't well defined."

You think this, because your experience tells you so. But this is not the case. The reason they are not well defined today - is because they have already been subverted.
Property rights and 'intellectual property' are the sole domain of government! Hence it will always remain stupid and arbitrary.

"Government is no longer a monopoly on force (if it ever was) "

Apparently you don't understand how government works. Don't pay your taxes, try to open up your own police agency, try to not pay tariffs, or otherwise trade with other people around the world - and then tell me what happens. Government is legitimized theft. Plain and Simple.

The force is applied within the borders. YOU (and/or your children) pay for the invasion of Iraq.

And don't give me the bullshit 'social contract' argument. I don't recall signing any document, that isn't followed anyway.

"Anyway, if you want to discuss it in email or on a economic/political blog, let's take it up there, not here."

Why? This is directly related to the security question. Isn't that what this site is about?

I will always argue that you don't get any security under a geographical monopoly of force. We should work to abolish bad security, right?

MikeApril 21, 2006 1:49 PM

"I will always argue that you don't get any security under a geographical monopoly of force. We should work to abolish bad security, right?"

Like I said, if all you got is a hammer....


Remember, if anyone ever tells you they have or know the "one-true-way" to do anything, they are definitely wrong, probably deluded and certainly lying.

Put the Von Mises and Rothbard down and try expanding your horizons a bit. I would reccomend "The Efficient Society" by Joseph Heath as a start.

quincunxApril 21, 2006 3:17 PM

"Like I said, if all you got is a hammer....
Remember, if anyone ever tells you they have or know the "one-true-way" to do anything, they are definitely wrong, probably deluded and certainly lying."

Gee, thanks for supporting my point. You just disproved the need for the government. Since it is the institution that imposes a "one-true-way". Apply the same criticism to yourself. Do you not see or understand this?

I propose free competition in security, which assures that there is no one true way - but what ever way is best for the subjective judgments of the individuals involved.

"The Efficient Society" is socialist tripe - that btw was nicely disputed by both Mises and Rothbard. Socialism can't calculate, it only has emotional appeal lacking in any rational thought. It also ignores that fact that there is no "third-way" interventionist society that doesn't eventually degenerate into socialism. The book rests on the disproved utilitarian theme that some violence on voluntary cooperation (markets) will produce desirable results. Of course it is just plain wrong - and only has appeal to the utilitarian judgment of the person making it, in this case, the author.

BennyApril 21, 2006 5:18 PM

Pat Callahan said:
"Anyway, if you want to discuss it in email or on a economic/political blog, let's take it up there, not here."

quincunx said:
"Why? This is directly related to the security question."

No, actually it doesn't seem to be that way any more. It seems more related to you strutting about the latest and greatest economic ideas you read somewhere and looking down your nose at anyone who disagrees with you. Your belligerent tone isn't conducive to any sort of meaningful discussion.

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