Review (Guest): How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World? A Scorecard From 1900 to 2050

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Bjorn Lomberg et al

2.0 out of 5 stars It just gets better and better!, November 15, 2013

By David Wineberg “David Wineberg” (New York, NY USA) – See all my reviews  (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)

Milton Berle once appeared for an interview on a morning TV show in New York. After, his interviewer threw to the weather woman. Berle left his seat and took over doing the weather. His analysis? A line of tornados ripped through New Jersey last night, causing $100 million in IMPROVEMENTS. That is the feeling I got with How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World?

Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus got a bunch of academics to look at issues from a common denominator. Everything has to be evaluated as a percentage of GDP. Everything has to be monetized to make the models work. Lives, disease, biodiversity – everything gets a dollar value in these studies. Lack of historical data is not a problem either; the models “backcast” to 1900. The conclusion is that our worrisome problems are an ever shrinking cost to us, relative to GDP.

But of course, prices have never reflected the ecological cost of production or use, so we’ve been freeloading, with GDP expanding while costs have been controlled. The bill will go to our grandchildren. These models don’t reflect that. Instead, the ballooning GDPs of the last century simply leave the cost centers in their wake, taking an ever smaller share.

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Mar 11

Review: The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

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Robert Kaplan

2.0 out of 5 stars Neither new nor original nor reliable, September 1, 2013

I am getting pretty sick of Stratfor and the pimps of empire. There is nothing new in this book other than self-promotion. For better more original reads consider, among many, many others:

Zones of conflict: An atlas of future wars

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Geography and natural resources are a starting point. How the population develops — including the degree to which it is educated, liberated, and empowered to innovate, matter. Deeper books along these lines include:

Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition

Politics Among Nations

In the end it boils down to clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. I am quite tired of pundits recycling old knowledge, a practice made poissible by an ignorant public (including ignorant policy makers and deeply unethical politicians as well as a captive media that is both ignorant and complicit).

Best wishes to all,
Robert Steele
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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Sep 2

Review: Government Auditing Standards 2011 Version

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Comptroller General

2.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Numbing Waste of Time and Money,September 2, 2012

I am *stunned* that any Comptroller General would sign off on this. In my 33 year government career this is the densest most meaningless compilation of words (no pictures, no figures, no timelines, no lists) of gobbly-goop I have ever seen (of course there are a great many such products from other government agencies I have not seen). If I were the Comptroller General, not only would I not sign off on this, I would consider permanent exile for the entire team responsible for this. It fails to enlighten or communicate — it is more like a “cover your ass” document.

In theory, this book is about independence of audits and the professional management of audits. In fact, this is strung together text, all of it making sense in isolation, and none of it useful to actually doing a real audit meaningful to We the People. This is a classic example of doing the wrong thing righter (Russell Ackoff).

The more I read into this the sadder I got. I have known for a long time that GAO, CBO, and CRS are creatures of a very corrupt Congress, and that Congress actually reserves the right to tell them what their assumptions (code for outcomes) will be, but until I read this I did not realize how disconnected the whole process is. Now I have to emphasize that I value actual GAO reports and I would never consider doing an internal executive audit without consulting both GAO and OMB (which does not do management, but you can at least try to find someone who’s heard of the concept). What this book does is give me pause — if this is the GAO “foundation work” if causes me to wonder what else about GAO is so corrupt (in the holistic not making sense of the word).

This book is available free online at the GAO website. I bought it because it never occurred to me that GAO would produce something from the Stone Age, and for serious thinking, I have to have it in writing in front of me subject to annotation and hand-eye-brain coordination.

Here is the larger bottom line:

a) Congress authorizes and appropriates money based on corruption, personal, financial, and ideological — as long as Congress is getting its standard 5% kick-back, they will authorize and appropriate anything, from the bridge to nowhere to a stealth fighter that does not work as advertised, is unaffordable, and coated in toxins that kill the pilots stupid enough to fly something the USAF swears is safe.

b) GAO is only authorized to audit for compliance with the original corrupt authorization and appropriation. They are not authorized to blow the whistle on insane, unaffordable expenditures.

c) Within the Executive, taking NSA as a classic example, the focus is on keeping money moving and growing the pie because that is how the Executive creates more and more flag and senior executive positions, and that is how those flags and senior executives “pay forward” the reverse bribes that will get them follow-on careers with the contractors that will build any insane unafforable and generally inoperable (SAIC and Trailblazer come to mind) “capability” that Congress has authorized and appropriated.

d) When NSA is inspected from within the Executive, the focus is NOT on the why, on the cost, on the “fit” with any given strategy or other related programs, but on the allocation authority and whether NSA is spending the money as directed, never mind whether it works or not. This is one reason why I believe that both Inspectors General and Operational Test & Evaluation should be part of the Intelligence Directorate of any given Cabinet office, just as I believe that education, intelligence, and research must be asuthorized, appropriated, allocated, constructed, and evaluated as a whole.

It is with a grimace that I prepare to donate this book to the Oakton VA library. It is a perfect example of corrupt perfection. Argh.

Robert David Steele
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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Sep 2

Review: The Decline of American Power – The US in a Chaotic World

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Immanuel Wallerstein

2.0 out of 5 stars Price for 160 Pages Beneath Contempt,November 16, 2011

I am angry–I really wanted to buy and read this book, but a price of $50 for 160 pages is beneath contempt. The author is being abused by the publisher and I urge the author to consider a new publisher for the paperback, or demanding that the paperback be published immediately. Barnes and Noble has been shut down by Amazon — all other publishers appear in intent on staving off their ultimate demise in the face of on demand publishing by gouging the public.

This book in hardcopy should not be sold for more than $25, and in paperback for $16. Please join me in boycotting this publisher, as someone who cares deeply about the dissemination of important knowledge — which the author clearly offers — I find this pricing an utter outrage.

Here are some reasonably priced books that I offer as a substitute–my “top ten” if you will.
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Nov 16

Review (Guest): Gaming the Vote – Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It)

Amazon PageWilliam Poundstone

2.0 out of 5 stars Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), February 12, 2008

The book is extremely well-written, and a joy to read. It would be highly recommended, except for two fatal flaws discussed below.

Poundstone’s latest book deals with an issue that is fundamental to democracy, yet almost totally ignored in the U.S. While many books focus on the role of money in elections, or voter registration, or voting machine integrity, relatively few popularly written books have tackled the more fundamental question of how votes get translated into representation. This is not a question of voting machine technology, but of logic. Most Americans are remarkably unaware of the variety of voting methods available, nor of the fact that the plurality voting method that predominates in the U.S. is not the norm among modern democracies, and, in fact, is probably the most problematic of all voting methods.

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Sep 5

Review (Guest): Innovation–The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want

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Curtis R. Carlson (Author), William W. Wilmot (Author)

2.0 out of 5 stars This is a BAD book on innovation

September 30, 2006

By ARMAN KIRIM, PhD (Istanbul, Turkey) – See all my reviews

This is a BAD book on innovation

As a matter of fact it is a bad book in the most general meaning of the word. First of all, it does not deliver what it promises to deliver and thus misleads the buyer. It claims that it is going to provide a `framework’ for an innovative organization, but instead turns out to be a most general blah blah on every subject in the area of `management’. Apart from an abundant use of the word `innovation’, there is hardly anything related to the core of innovation process in this book.

If you like, let me summarise what they say:

1. The book starts with an expose of the CHANGES in the world economy, globalization etc. The usual stuff you would expect to find in any `wake-up call’ book these days. But is there anyone left who is not aware of the big changes going on around us? Do we need another book warning us that business is no longer usual?

2. The book then goes on outlining their `framework’ for innovation. This is called the `five disciplines’. Disciplines indeed! And such `novel’ ones. Let’s look at them, if you like.

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Oct 17

Review: Governments, NGOs and Anti-Corruption–The New Integrity Warriors

Categories: 2 Star,Corruption

Amazon Page

2.0 out of 5 stars Outrageously Priced, Rotten Provision of Information, April 16, 2010

Luis de Sousa, Barry Hindess, Peter Larmour

This is probably a very important book, but it will never be bought by most because it is outrageously priced (272 pages, this should be selling for $27.20 at most), and the publisher has been grievously irresponsible in failing to use the free Amazon tools to provide a sufficiency of information. The authors and the content are without question superb. How this book has been offered is itself a study in corruption.

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Apr 16

Review: People and Organizations–Explorations of Human-Centered Design

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PeopleToo Expensive, April 3, 2008

William B. Rouse

This book should be selling for no more than $39.95. I’d like to buy it, but not at this price. As a publisher I can tell you it costs a penny a page to publish a book like this. I am adding this book to my list of books I would buy and review if they were more reasonably priced.

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Jul 4

Review: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets–The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means

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Moose ManureHuge Mountain of Moose Manure, October 14, 2008

George Soros

I have lost patience for this kind of book. I recommend the other ten books instead (and the last two, which I wrote, are free online, so I am not pushing them for purchase)

1) Our economy went into the gutter when Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), then Chair for Banking, slipped a 200+ page bill written by lobbyists into a must fund larger bill, with the result that no senators read it (as they did not read the Patriot Act), and it deregulated–completely–the financial marketplace, ending the walls between banking (which lends on tangibles) and investment (which speculates on intangibles).

2) DERIVATIVES is code for fantasy cash. I was not smart enough to see this myself, but Bogle, Soros, Buffet, Perot, Nader, they all saw it, they tried to brief it, and in the case of Nader, got laughed off the Hill. Sub-prime mortgages were the match that lit the fire, not the straw itself.

3) Goldman Sachs is forever, Washington’s two criminal parties have been bought and paid for. Rubin did not bail out Mexico. He bailed out Wall Street’s bad investments in Mexico. and Bill Clinton for sure understood this, and leveraged the whole thing the whole time with placement of his friends in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae where they enriched themselves and contributed heavily to Clinton’s Library and other endeavors.

The market did not fail. Congress failed. BOTH parties are criminal parties, and I am personally outraged that Americans are not burning tires in the streets demanding that at a minimum three other parties be heard by the public in these debates. Most of America is utterly clueless about the FACT that the League of Women Voters was replaced by a Republican-Democratic Presidential Debate Commission precisely to exclude Independent, Green, Reform, Libertarian, and other candidates.

With all due respect for their accomplishments, the two candidates for President today are relative puppets being managed by *clowns* who are owned by Wall Street carpetbaggers and the crooked parties that have effectively killed democracy in this once-great Republic.

I am, to be utterly candid, sick and tired of Soros telling us how smart he is when he actually does not care at all about the public interest. This is the last book written by Soros that I will waste my time on.

Other much more relevant books to our situation:
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story
The Informant: A True Story
The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)

I am ANGRY. Soros is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Simiarly, Buffet means well, but he is working this for himself, not us. It was idiocy to approve the bail-out. That should have been a freeze, a moratorium on all foreclosures (10,000 a day) as well as all evictions, a capping of interest at 10%, an emergency fund focusing on INDIVIDUALS, and a mandated public forum post-election with ALL relevant documents posted online for scrutiny (“put enough eyeballs on it, no bug is invisible”).

This election is so fraught with fraud on so many levels, that the financial crisis, in my judgement is the third and least of our problems. Electoral fraud and the criminal misbehavior of BOTH Republicans and Democrats is problem #1. The two dozen plus secessionist movements being led by Kirkpatrick Sale are problem #2 because they have LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES. I was reflecting on this today, and realized that an honest man today has three choices:

1. Refuse to support our dysfunctional government and support secession.

2. Join a crime family and drop out of the fraudulent “legal” economy.

3. Be a gerbil, a farm animal, and let Wall Street–including the author of this book–enjoy life on our backs for a few more years.

I did not read this book, nor buy it. I do not do this often, but this seems as good a place to denounce Soros, the horse that brought him (Wall Street), and the morons in Congress that let these thieves run wild.

I expect plenty of reflexive negative votes but for those of you with an open mind, take the time to read the varied reviews of the ten books I recommend instead of this one, and trust your own judgment.

Mark Lewis had it right: these folks think nothing of “exploding the client.” That’s us. This author was right up there with them, step by step, and did nothing for We the People–his best shot was to support the “least evil” (in his mind) party and to be silent as Bush-Cheney destroyed our military, our economy, and most grieviously, our global moral standing.

It’s time we drop kick Wall Street into the ocean, introduce Open Money, and invest only in local tangible hard-money options. Ron Paul has it right–everyone else is a traitor to the Constitution and to the Republic–Paulson means well but he and all of these folks live in a “closed society” that is completely out of touch with OUR reality.

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Jul 3

Review: Tried by War–Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

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Tried by WarConventional History Oblivious to Constitutional Facts, November 16, 2008

James M. McPherson

I will not buy this book, nor should any citizen that actually wants to understand the truth of our history after 1860 when states’ rights were unconstitutionally destroyed by force. They are emergent again, praise God.

Lincoln did not have the right to conscript forces or to wage war on those States that exercised their continuing right of secession. A “Civil War” is a war between two parties for the whole. The war was an illegal war by the North against the undiminished right of every state in the United STATES of America to secede, and that is why Dick Cheney loves Lincoln so much. Lincoln is the president that suspended habeas corpus, unleashed immoral capitalism on the south at a time when slavery was already on its way out (the South itself ended importation of slaves upon withdrawing), and needlessly slaughtered an entire generation of fighting men of honor on both sides, one side fighting for its honor, the other because they were incited and lied to for financial gain by the few.

The author is a distinguished historian, but he offers up conventional history that fails to actually inform the public. President-elect Obama would do well to read the books on secession I list below (or my reviews), in as much as he will be facing multiple crises of both nullification and secession in the near term at the same time that certain States sponsor referendums that demand that their Senators and Representatives refer all votes to public ballot in the home state–thus do we break the backs of the two criminal parties that have betrayed the public trust.

I made the same mistake as this author in my own (high school) advanced placement study of the causes of the “Civil War” which should more properly be called the War Against Secession. Below I offer up ten books, each of which has a summative review of mine offered in the public interest.

NEWS FLASH for Barack Obama: we are NOT “one nation” or even “one people. We are 50 sovereign states that signed a compact to create a federal corporation to administer services of common concern, and that enterprise is now corrupt to the core (dysfunctional and overstretech executive, Congress in violation of Article 1 and corrupt, judiciary clueless about our Constitutional legal roots and states rights) and run amok. I desire to keep the USA together and restore the Constitution as well as the effective representational balance of power among the three branches of the federal corporation, but no one, including “the one,” can do that without three Deputy Vice Presidents (my own preferences in parenthesis):

DVP for Education, Intelligence, and Research (Colin Powell)
DVP for National Security (Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sam Nunn)
DVP for Commonwealth (Hillary Clinton, Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney)

and four reforms implemented immediately:

1) Electoral Reform
2) Governance Reform
3) Intelligence Reform
4) National Security Reform

For details see Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography). As with all books I sponsor, it is also available free online.

It is time for every American to stop digesting and regurgitating pabulum, and begin thinking independently. CNN turned out to be hot air and low theater. They bluster and pretend, and not once did they challenge either candidate to produce a balanced budget, name a cabinet in advance, or address any of the ten threats or twelve polices with any coherence. All of our institutions are broken. Lincoln is an example of what NOT to do. I support the right of secession as a means of demanding truth and reconciliation. Our federal government is out of control. Leadership of genocide and slaughter and regional looting is not something we should be proud of, nor is it something to emulate today.

Books on secession relevant today:
Constitutional History of Secession
Is Secession Treason?
Secession: How Vermont and All the Other States Can Save Themselves from the Empire
One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution

Books on History Lost and Fogged:
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Fog Facts : Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin (Nation Books)

Books on Current Government and Two-Party Spoils System Corruption:
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders

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Jul 3