Review: The Price of Liberty–Paying for America’s Wars

5 Star, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, War & Face of Battle
Price of Liberty
Amazon Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Flaws Easily Corrected, Views are of Strategic Importance
June 28, 2007

Robert D. Hormats

would normally deduct one star for three flaws, but because they are easily corrected and the author’s former boss is now Secretary of the Treasury, and perhaps powerful enough to ignore Dick Cheney’s craven amoral direction as documented in both The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill and Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency, I restore the one star for actionable potential. My review of the latter itemizes 23 high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Dick Cheney as documented by the authors, and no review our fiscal decrepitude can be complete without understanding how Dick Cheney has bankrupted the Republic and betrayed the Nation and our troops.

I like this author. He gets it. I would gladly work with him in remediation as he suggests, which I summarize below. First, however, the three flaws:

1) He really believes the government baloney about how the military budget is a tiny fraction of our disposable income in comparison to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Not so. See my first image. If we restore universal service (inclusive of demanding two years from anyone asking for citizenship), end most of the “support” (read: looting) contracts that transfer taxpayer wealth to Halliburton and others of their ilk, and if we reform our national health system to provide a mix of lifestyle, environmental, alternative or natural, and medical care, with drug prices based on global wholesale prices, we drop drug unit prices from $600 (US) to $6 (global), bypassing the current Canadian pricing ($60). Extend the retirement age, modify education to be lifelong, and dramatically improve minimum wages, end illegal immigration, and introduce children to the work force as apprentices earlier, and we have the flexibility to heal ourselves and get out of insolvency, which the Comptroller General told Congress is where we are as of six months ago.

2) The author understands that asymmetric warfare allows our enemies to spend $1 and we have to spend much more. Bin Laden actually said this publicly a few years ago, and my second image illustrates both “the Bin Laden equation” of $1 from them requires $500,000 from us, and also the ten threats and twelve policies that must be addressed in a harmonized inter-agency and coalition fashion, using transparent accountable information as the “glue” for information arbitrage, a term I devised in the 1990’s, the conversion of information into intelligence and intelligence into profit or cost and risk reduction. The hedge fund managers have been doing this for decades, with one big difference: they manage for the profit of the few rather than the sustainable profit to the many.

3) Alluded to above, and certainly in strong support of the author’s recommended program, is the role that information and public (legal, ethical, sharable) intelligence can play in creating infinite wealth. See for instance, the books below (or read my reviews as a short-cut):

Revolutionary Wealth
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization
Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era

I take the trouble to emphasize the above prior to summarizing the author’s views, and loading a third image on how I am attempting to work with Amazon and others to create a global information arbitrage economy that includes serious games and empowers every *locality*, because “The Price of Liberty” is NOT financial, it is intellectual. Where we have gone wrong these past decades is in forgetting that if We the People drop out of politics, we are left with corrupt minority parties that are Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It and a Congress that is impeachable for failing to act on two stolen elections and as the Article 1 branch of government (see for instance:

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)

It is in this larger context that the author’s views become vital to the Republic, and actionable by the current and next Secretary of the Treasury. For the record, I am betting on Bradley-Bloomberg and 16 years of transpartisan government with multi-party (5-6 parties, not two) announced in advance and elected as part of “Our Deal.”

This is a lovely history with deep meaning for our future. The author’s core point is that a long war requires a long-term fiscal strategy. His elaborations make it clear that the Bush-Cheney Administration, which made fiscal policy from the Office of the Vice President and continues to demean the Cabinet, has bankrupted the Nation.

The author is especially strong at showing the differences between past indebtedness and today’s indebtedness. Today we have no surplus, we have an energy deficit, we have idiotic tax cuts for the wealth and an unfair burden on the poor, we continue benefits that are unaffordable and crippling to our evolution, and we are not planning for the future needs of our rapidly aging and often needy.

I was moved to conceptualize “Our Deal” after reading the author’s brilliant but down to earth discussion of how the Roosevelt “New Deal” and the Truman “Fair Deal” and the Johnson “Great Society” all ran aground, more or less, because of the rocks of war. The author is clear is saying that it was the Reagan era that turned us into a debtor nation.

The author connects social justice at home with the sacrifices of our troops abroad, and concludes that the Pentagon, above all, must re-examine its allocation of resources (see my fourth image, the “Four Forces After Next” that I began recommending in 1992).

Amnesia & Ambivalence are the death of a Nation. Lack of inter-agency coordination is killing us. We need energy patriotism, savings patriotism, and I would add, democratic patriotism. I am working to create a “big bat” for Transpartisanship, one capable of raising $500M a year in Liberty Bonds with which to buy back our government and force Congress to attend to the people’s priorities.

This book helps us all.

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