The author of this book, David Tucker, appears to be one of those folks whose careers have often put them on the fringes of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), but who have only superficially been involved in any aspect of intelligence production. Tucker compounds this deficiency by an unwillingness to either research or reflect seriously on his chosen subject. The goal of this book presumably is to demonstrate the dynamic relationships between intelligence, the power of nation states, and the so-called information age. Because Tucker is unwilling to really think through what he means by these terms, the book utterly fails to achieve this goal.
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.
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:
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).
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