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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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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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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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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