What We Don’t Know

One of the things that doesn’t get discussed enough in politics is the fact that we don’t know what the future will hold. I think we all know this in the general sense, but we tend to discount it when discussing policy making.

It struck me recently after the debt crisis. We were told the debt ceiling would have to be raised to avoid downgrading US debt and keep the stock market from going crazy. Well, the debt ceiling was raised and the debt was downgraded (by one agency) and the market went crazy. There were also all sorts of possibilities before the vote about what might happen if we had defaulted from it wouldn’t be so bad to it would have been horrible.

So who was right and who was wrong? Well, we know what happened after we passed the debt ceiling, obviously. But we don’t know what would have happened if a better deal had been reached or if we’d defaulted. We can make educated guesses, but in an unprecedented situation like a default, it’s only a guess.

And the same holds true in international affairs. At the start of the Libya conflict, Lee wrote about the potential humanitarian catastrophe there, and “the possibility of a massacre that could’ve taken 100,000 lives” had we done nothing. Not to put any faith in Gaddafi, and certainly not to dismiss the possibility, but we don’t know if it would have been 100,000 or far fewer people. And while the war is hopefully reaching its end now, it was tough to know how it would end a few months ago. We also won’t know for some time how the administration’s arguments about the War Powers Act will be used by the next president.

The point here isn’t that we can’t make decisions or move forward. Of course we can. I just wish we’d acknowledge some uncertainty at the start.

Comments

  1. 1

    yd spews:

    The Debt can (default) just got kicked down the road until after 2012, at which time default on these massive deficit spenders will be the only option.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “One of the things that doesn’t get discussed enough in politics is the fact that we don’t know what the future will hold.”

    It gets discussed plenty in investment circles, but that doesn’t do any damn good, because nobody knows anyway.”

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 Deficits are no problem at all for the government. Policymakers can cut the debt in half overnight. All they have to do is print twice as much money. They’ll probably want to line up political asylum in a foreign country with no roads and dense jungles before they do.

  4. 4

    who run Bartertown? spews:

    ya, thats the answer, print more money, so the money then becomes worth less and less

    good idea fool.

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    See, the thing about WAR is they never turn out as planned — the enemy has a way of screwing up the best-laid military plans. See, e.g., the “Mission Accomplished” guy and a long list of predecessors including General Westmoreland, the creators of the Maginot Line, Napoleon, et al.

    When you consider how many wars go awry and turn out badly for their instigators, only someone with rocks in his head believes in a “military solution.” War should be a last resort, and then only when someone else starts it, leaving you no choice. This, of course, does not assure a favorable outcome.

    But try telling this to a Republican — people you can’t even get to acknowledge a Hawaiian birth certificate.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I wonder if humanity is doomed to an endless succession of wars. Given what you humans have learned about physics, and your engineering accomplishments, one would think you could figure out how to abolish war. After all, war is a human behavior, and you can change your behavior, so there’s nothing in the laws of nature that says war is inevitable. All you have to do is decide to stop killing each other. Why is this so hard? Why can’t you do it?

    We, the other members of the animal kingdom, wonder why you humans are so helpess against your own human nature.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I have in my possession a petition, signed my representatives of millions of other species, that doesn’t ask you humans to stop waging war against each other — heaven forbid! — all we ask is that when you finally wipe yourselves out, please don’t take the rest of us with you.

  8. 9

    Puddybud, traveling again visiting great American cities spews:

    Well, the debt ceiling was raised and the debt was downgraded (by one agency)

    Typical progressive libtardo only gives a partial story. Real Americans look at the whole picture.

    Moody’s – Gave Negative US Outlook, meaning it could also decide to downgrade the debt at any time.

  9. 10

    Puddybud, traveling again visiting great American cities spews:

    signed my representatives of millions of other species… all we ask is that when you finally wipe yourselves out, please don’t take the rest of us with you

    So you are not human. Written by someone so truly delusional who bragged he went to Vietnam; just like John Effin Kerry.

    In the words of the deadtoad… “take your meds immediately”.

  10. 11

    Puddybud, traveling again visiting great American cities spews:

    Speaking of the market…

    Warren Buffett makes $280m profit on Bank of America stake in just 24 hours

    How cum there are no libtardo calls for an immediate tax payment of Warren Buffett’s evil corporation Berkshire Hathaway. The market jumped on BoA and they made a tidy sum. You libtardos jumped up and down loony idiotic when he called for increased taxes on the rich. Well his evil corporation Berkshire Hathaway made $280 Million in one day. Yet the HA loons are quiet!

    Oops… my bad. Warren Buffet is a left wing loon too so he gets a pass when his evil corporation makes large bank. You only finger rich conservatives.

  11. 12

    spews:

    So you are not human. Written by someone so truly delusional who bragged he went to Vietnam;

    Dogs are used in every war. Why not rabbits?

    The only delusionals in these comment threads are the right wing ones..

    And the most nutty one is Puddydope.

  12. 13

    spews:

    11 – LMAO! Buffet himself just revealed he pays over 6 million in federal taxes and claims he can pay a lot more! In fact he implies he can pay at least at the rate his own help pays (average 36 percent) and supports a special bracket for people like him. I’d say it’s at least 50 percent and more likely higher given the rate his help pays.

    IT”S NO SKIN OFF HIS BACK!

    I bet Berkshire pays a lot more in taxes than the idiot Koch brothers who I understand use every trick in the book to avoid the tax man.

    What a dope!

  13. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 “How cum there are no libtardo calls for an immediate tax payment of Warren Buffett’s evil corporation Berkshire Hathaway.”

    Because paper profits aren’t taxable, jackass. A taxable event occurs only when he exercises the warrants and actually receives the capital gains.

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Dear reality-challenged numbskull @10: John Kerry and I both went to Vietnam. Neither one of us has any obligation to prove it to a flake like you. P.S., I don’t remember seeing YOU there.

  15. 16

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Here’s an idea – go ahead and raise the tax rates on the “millionaires and billionaires,” but use the extra revenue for the sole purpose of redeeming our debt held by foreigners.

  16. 18

    spews:

    17 – It doesn’t solve the problem which is a sustainable federal government defending the homeland and promoting the general welfare.

    It’s unfair and stupid. A whole class of people who benefit from a gold plated military should pay for that military which includes veterans benefits and pensions. When the chips are down, what do we all owe those people.

    One guy paying is an idiot.

    If Warren Buffet pays then the Koch Brothers pay too. No exceptions. Just like Buffet’s help all pitching in for their middle class entitlements.

    Me and others have explained this countless times.

    It’ll never sink in will it?