03 Oct 2008

How Did Things Get So Bad?

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Little by little, suggests one of Richard Fernandez‘s correspondents.

Something is clearly wrong. Some time ago I argued that it has long been a false article of faith that there exists an essentially unlimited margin of resources from which to indulge the Green Mania, say “sorry” to the world, provide military advantages to America’s enemies, admit untold numbers of illegal immigrants and to pay off scaremongers who require unreasonable levels of accountability. A reader sent me an email saying:

    A while back you had a post which said that while decreased economic activity was one way to deal with man-caused global warming, such a reduction in wealth also decreased our ability to respond to crises, including those associated with global warming.

    In engineering there is a concept called “design margin” in which extra strength, power, capacity, capability is built into things to account for wear and tear as well as unknowns about the environment.

    I think that the reason so many things seem to be “breaking” today is that over the last 20 years we have used up our “margin.” Not pumping oil from our own known reserves ate into that margin. Cutting the military back by almost 50% – and then deploying it more than before – cut into that margin. Insisting on environmental, legal, racial, considerations in everything ate into that margin. Political correctness ate into that margin.

    No one thought that a number of bad loans made to people who could not repay them would sink the economy – indeed it is not clear that it will even now – but eventually that “margin” in the financial system got eaten away. A single massive award in a lawsuit by a woman who spilled coffee in her lap ate into that margin in its own way, as did innumerable other lawsuits, silly or not.

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