Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Singularly Important Casualty Of U.S. Defense Cuts

One of the medium range sinkers firing out from Taiwan's electoral wake is the almost total neglect of defense issues. Partly, this may be due to an unwillingness to make the Chinese lose face (at least this may be somewhat true of the incumbent President), and partly it may be due to a relative absence of interest in defense issues among the public. Either way, I find it ominous that defense issues are not a major aspect of public debate in the run up to these elections. I am currently preparing an essay on Taiwan's air theatre defenses and future options, and in connection to that I thought the U.S. President's announcement of further budget cuts to defense of half a trillion (i.e. in addition to the already settled cuts of >U.S.$400 billion prepared by Secretary Gates) was noteworthy...
"Other examples are the ... Navy’s hypersonic electromagnetic rail gun, which could help combat Chinese anti-ship missiles aimed at our carrier strike groups in the event of a conflagration in the Pacific, the region President Obama claims he’s so worried about. It lost its funding earlier this year."
That particular weapon system - the Navy's railgun - is I think, a potential "game-changer" in deterrence capability that simply must be developed if the USN is to be prepared to deter future PLA aggression across the Taiwan Strait.

However, and as I have argued elsewhere, not only is that assumption likely to become more questionable over time with the ongoing advance of the PLA's access-denial capabilities (and the more general rotting of American spirit), but Taiwan's Chung Shan Institute really ought to be talking to those guys at General Atomics' EMS division in order to develop a Taiwanese railgun program; it could be a very formidable point defense weapon to deter PLA aggression. Over the long term, Taiwan's people simply cannot afford to rely on the perhaps doubtful prospect of continued U.S. military support - and nor should they.


  1. Again, your philosophy shattered by somebody smarter:

    Why I copy and paste? Why waste time arguing with an idiot? And if other people make good arguments, why not use them against the brain-dead?

  2. You copy and paste because you don't know the html code for embedding links.

    Michael Spence...

    "This is not because markets are morally superior..."

    Morally superior to what? To centrally planned economies, i.e. to government control. What a stark confession: Michael Spence openly admits that, in his view, a system of free exchange is not morally superior to a system of coercion. So he either thinks the two are morally equivalent (which is not a position demanded by the professional neutrality once expected of economists), or that political coercion is morally superior to free exchange. (And if that's his opinion, then he deserves a kick in the nobels - at the very least).

    "However, they are not perfect. They underperform in the presence of externalities (the unpriced consequences — for example, air pollution — of individual actions), informational gaps and asymmetries, as well as coordination problems when there are multiple equilibria, some superior to others."

    Of course markets are not "perfect", but he neglects two things here:

    1) Externalities are an even bigger and much more serious problem for government than they are for markets. The obvious one which nobody is talking about in Taiwan - still - is government debt. The reason this - the State's problem with externalities - is so often unmentioned by the Left is because they value the chance to exercise political control of other people's lives even above their own freedom, that's how depraved they are.

    2) The State, through the establishment of its regulatory agencies, simply prevents competitive licensing arrangements from emerging on the market (see my comments on this post).

    3) The problems he says markets cannot deal with are often consequences of the State's usually monopolistic provision of public goods (e.g. utilities preventing the innovation in infrastructure a free market would necessitate), including money itself (the effect of inflation on the price system), law (the delays, expense and corruption of the legal monopoly) and the operation of its regulatory agencies (as above, effectively preventing the emergence of competitive licensing arrangements). I could go into great detail here, but I don't have time.

    "...societies have important economic and social objectives that markets and competition are not designed to achieve."

    Three points here:

    1) Markets are not "designed", period. Even as metaphor, this is wrong. Markets are an emergent phenomenon of free human interaction.

    2) He uses "society" as a sleight of hand substitute for political parties and their associated hangers-on in the think-tanks, papers and so on.

    3) His "economic and social objectives" may or may not be backed by sincere belief, but in either case they ought to be recognized for what they really are: the rhetorical means by which these groups seek to gain and/or maintain political power.

    Go on then "Taipei Times reporter"... off you go to find another article to "shatter" my "shit philosophy". I'll add it to the now growing collection.


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