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).