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Let’s play "Would’ja Rather"
Posted by: Dale Franks on Sunday, May 14, 2006

There's an old game, usually played by drinking buddies after a few beers, called "Would'ja Rather". It's a simple game. Everyone takes turns proposing a set of two horrific hypotheticals, and the other players then have to choose the hypothetical they prefer.

"Would'ja rather eat 5 cockroaches, or tongue-kiss Tom Cruise for 3 minutes?"

It's all a bit silly, really.

In real life, though, we play Would'ja Rather all the time, and about much more serious things. Indeed, as Mark Steyn points out, all the imbroglio of NSA wiretapping, collecting of phone records, and what have you, is little more than a big game of Would'ja Rather.
I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots — he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq — in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.
It's a binary decision set. Either we can target a small subset of people with specific characteristics, or we have to target everyone. And targeting everyone, by the way, is an inefficient and bothersome way of, at the end of the day, targeting no one. Increasing the number of suspects is an excellent way of ensuring that you miss more perpetrators.

Unless, of course, you want to go the way of the East German Stasi, and put 20% of the population on the payroll as informants. And even that, in the end, wasn't effective.

To connect the dots, as Steyn says, you have to see the dots. So, it isn't particularly helpful to have attitudes like this:
So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:

Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."
Think about it:

1. You want the government to prevent terrorist attacks.
2. You don't want the government to target specific groups.
3. You don't want the government to engage in widespread surveillance.

Well, I've got bad news for you. Pick two of the above. All three of those goals cannot be achieved, and demanding that the world operate in a different fashion than it does is just childish and petulant.

Libertarian columnist Steve Chapman writes
No one is exempt from the National Security Agency (NSA) program to amass a record of every phone call ever made, with the help of major telecommunications providers. As one insider told USA Today, "It's the largest database ever assembled in the world." And have no doubt: You're in it.

President Bush insisted, "We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans." In fact, that's exactly what his administration is doing — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is no longer possible (unless you're a customer of Qwest, which has refused to cooperate) to make a telephone call without the government knowing about it and keeping a record of it. We are all suspects now.
Of course we are. That's exactly the result we demanded when we forced our political leaders to reject even the very idea of profiling as a legitimate law enforcement/security tool. But Mr. Chapman writes as if it's all come as a big surprise to him.

What did he expect? After all, that's the security regime we essentially asked for, so it's not much of a surprise that it turned out to be the one we got.

People must think that our security agencies are staffed by mind-reading supermen who can root out terrorist cells, and avert attacks without ever having to conduct surveillance or gather intelligence, except in foreign countries, of course.

Well, that's not the way it works. And, trust me, from the inside, the people who work at those agencies don't see it that way at all.

So, would'ja rather have an open society, or more effective counter-terrorism security? If you choose the former, then you must accept that the risk of a major terrorist attack increases. If you choose the latter, then you are choosing to give up some liberty.

You can demand to have both all you want, but it just isn't going to happen.
 
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Comments
That’s exactly the result we demanded when we forced our political leaders to reject even the very idea of profiling as a legitimate law enforcement/security tool.
So the NSA is targeting everyone out of fear of being accused of racial profiling???

The Big Bad NSA!?!?!?
Racial profiling!?!?

I guess you don’t believe that the NSA and the current administration has the courage of their convictions.

Interesting.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
I guess the whole data mining thing does not particularly disturb me. I sort of already assumed they were doing far more intrusive stuff. I am much more concerned that private companies know all about my buying habits.
You see, I am a small fish and as long as my communication is just a meaningless algorithm (And every one knows Al Gore has no Rhythm) then it does not concern me.
Let me know when they start arresting political opponents on trumped up charges.

In addition to data mining, I also want a return to sanity on profiling. This administration is totally PC whipped, so that’s not going to happen.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
In addition to data mining, I also want a return to sanity on profiling. This administration is totally PC whipped, so that’s not going to happen.
Yeah. But I thought that this President was supposed to be the straight shooter type.

Real tough guy, huh?

And yet, there’s little wonder why some would turn around and blame Democrats for Republican’s not having any balls.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
It’s a binary decision set. Either we can target a small subset of people with specific characteristics, or we have to target everyone. And targeting everyone, by the way, is an inefficient and bothersome way of, at the end of the day, targeting no one. Increasing the number of suspects is an excellent way of ensuring that you miss more perpetrators.
This is called a false dichotomy. While entertaining as a drinking game, I’m not sure of its utility in real world decision making. The choice is not between ’track everyone’ or ’racial profiling’. I would argue against both as pointless exercises that have little real-world results.

Clearly, reducing the number of targets to a more likely range would be more efficient and yeild better results. I’m not convinced that reduction need take place on racial lines, and in fact I suspect that in doing so would yeild security flaws of their own.

I seem to specifically recall an article, posted on this blog no less, that dealt with Al-Quada attempting to recruit people who fall outside of the usual demographic lines... as to foil any potential attempts at racial profiling. Which pretty clearly demonstrates, to me at least, that racial profiling would simply create more holes than it would plug. Remember, racial profiling would not have picked up Jose Padilla or John Walker Lindh. Nor would it have picked up British shoebomber Richard Reid (presuming it was done on the basis of name and country of origin, and not appearance.)


 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
The idea that the NSA chan’t have these records, but everybody else can just buy them is silly.


 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
"Nothing’s impossible to the fellow who doesn’t have to do the work."

I have begun to dispair at public discourse over a variety of issues. Many of those participating, particularly those liberally-minded folks in the MSM, often want outcomes that contradict one another. And when you point that out to them, they just shrug, and expect those doing the actual work to magically find a solution that overcomes the contradiction.

In journalism, apparently if they can imagine an outcome, then it’s irrelevant if there’s any way to actually reach it. Just being able to imagine it is enough to become contemptuous of those who complain that it can’t be done.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I guess you don’t believe that the NSA and the current administration has the courage of their convictions.
Or, alternatively, that they have stupid convictions.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
“In journalism, apparently if they can imagine an outcome, then it’s irrelevant if there’s any way to actually reach it. Just being able to imagine it is enough to become contemptuous of those who complain that it can’t be done.”

I think the same could be said for leftism in general.
 
Written By: Watcher
URL: http://watcherofweasels.com
I recently received from the U.S. Department of Commerce a brochure entitled "The American Community Survey" that I’m supposed to fill out and return A note I received a few days earlier advised me that my "response is required by law." Among the items the Commerce Department wants to know in this 24-page survey are the names, ages, jobs, employers, ethnicities, education levels, total income, sources of income of everyone in my household, as well as the amounts of my mortgage payment, utility bills, water and sewer bills, property taxes, and insurance. Much more is requested, but the list above will give you an idea of just how inquisitive the Commerce Department is.

This is in addition to the 1040 I recently filed with the IRS, which tells the government, among other things, how much I make, whom I work for, what I have invested in, from whom I have borrowed money, and my bank account numbers.

I submit to Sen. Leahy and others that the acquisition and retention by the government of the information requested via the income tax and the American Community Survey represent a far greater intrusion into my life and privacy than my phone number in a database being used to identify terrorist suspects — if for no other reason than the fact that the IRS has investigative and enforcement power and the NSA does not.
 
Written By: Diffus
URL: http://
So Pogue, lets get this on the record- from your comments, am I correct to infer that you SUPPORT profiling?

GREAT!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Whoa, some common sense on the NSA from QandO!

Nice article.

Steyn had me totally in agreement after the analogy to searching people’s shoes.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I seem to specifically recall an article, posted on this blog no less, that dealt with Al-Quada attempting to recruit people who fall outside of the usual demographic lines... as to foil any potential attempts at racial profiling.

They were doing that before 9/11 because its supposedly easier to get past airport security and what not - they also advised arabs to dress "western" and be clean, etc. This is before any serious security or data mining was started.

Still, I would think that they were not too successful in recruiting non-Arabs since they still use those for a lot of their operations.

Also, while Al-Qaeda might recruit non-Arabs, they are still Muslims and you could profile muslims.

BTW, I was yanked out of a waiting line for special investigation because I was:

Male
traveling on passport (in the USA)
one-way ticket

Sounds like there is some profiling going on, just not based on race or creed.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Whoa, some common sense on the NSA from QandO!
Well, actually, the post isn’t about the NSA per se. It’s about the conflicting political demands the NSA thing typifies, and the political unwillingness on the part of some to make tough choices.

Now, the Bush Administration, for better or worse has made those choices. Many may not like those choices, and that’s perfectly legitimate. What is not legitimate is to pretend that reversing those choices has no consequences.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
So the NSA is targeting everyone out of fear of being accused of racial profiling???
Or get a BSL of records and profile away with the real subset of interest, using the rest as a smokescreen.

Christ on rollerblades, they’d have to do that anyways to some extent to avoid tipping off the targets. Sheesh.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I’ve yet to hear anybody make the case that a massive data-mining project will help fight terrorism. Forget the privacy concerns for a moment, how does this program even help? Isn’t it a waste of resources? How about actually hiring spies to infiltrate potential AQ networks? Complaints about failing to "connect the dots" are not over random names that appeared on various databases. The failure to connect the dots was a failure of the FBI and the CIA and NSA and to share their own leads with one another. Mohammad Atta wasn’t just some random name that the FBI came across. He was a very real suspect that should have been investigated. Had he been wiretapped (with a warrant), we would have found at least some of his cell-mates. Failure to do traditional investigative work and share leads across agencies led to 9/11. It will do so in the future to, if we think data mining is our way to safety and security.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
Data mining is pretty effective in law enforcement...you know, like following up the suspect’s contacts, etc.

I’m sure patterns could be spotted as well, like 5% boost of call from Karchi to New York = elevate threat level.

How about actually hiring spies to infiltrate potential AQ networks?

The problem with HUMINT is that it’s really, really hard to do - and I would think it’d be double hard with A.Q. if only because the tribal areas of Pakistan SUCK for living standards...

But seriously, how do you think we get those tips won where Zahawri (sp?) will be for a muslim feast and then bomb him?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Let me get some things straight.

The NSA is monitoring overseas calls to know terrorists, places they operate from, and calls to same.

Okay. I’m jiggy wid’ it. I wish we had a declared war to remove all debate about the legitimacy, but I have no problem.

Now, two - as I understand it, the NSA has a list of my calls, and from that list, they are looking to see if I call over there.

Somehow I can’t get excited. Seems like a necessary step. You know, "Hey, before we get a warrant to wiretap this Jensen clown, let’s see if he’s actually making any calls that might merit it."

Tempest in a teapot if ya ask me.
 
Written By: Pete Jensen
URL: http://
Well, actually, the post isn’t about the NSA per se. It’s about the conflicting political demands the NSA thing typifies, and the political unwillingness on the part of some to make tough choices.
Not to mention, by way of quoting Mark Steyn, that it is the fault of the Democrats and the media that these conflicting political demands are in place.
Rather than look to the people in charge and ask the tough questions, it’s easier to shift blame to the conservative pundit’s favorite red-headed step child, the Democrats. And let’s not forget the media, because of course they are in collusion with the Democrats.
Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let’s scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government’s snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab."
Pure and total speculation. No one knows what Leahy would say upon the discovery that the NSA was targeting phone calls to Arabs from Arabs. One can just as easily speculate, and with greater providence I would argue, that it would be political suicide for a Senator to stand on the Senate floor professing outrage that, “How dare the Administration target phone calls to and from the Middle East by people of that national persuasion.”
Can you imagine?

And Matt Lauer…, well, …, who cares what he says?

Personally, I think it’s great that politicians and pundits are asking the tough questions regarding privacy, liberty, and the law. To some, however, asking tough questions and holding our government accountable is unacceptable.

Steyn continues,
Suppose you’re a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you’ve just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects?
Enormous will?
Yeah, you’ll forgive me if I expect “enormous will” from my employees in Washington when it comes to fighting terror. You’ll forgive me if I expect greater fortitude when confronting members of Congress v. protecting the American public.
There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.
And five years on?
What a great little round-a-bout way to suggest that the Media’s and Democrat’s submission to political correctness resulted in the attacks on 9/11.

We all know of the intelligence failures prior to 9/11. And none of them were a result of agents and bureaucrats being fearful of Matt Lauer and Pat Leahy. But on the off chance that they were, …

Angels and Ministers of Grace Defend Us.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
"I wish we had a declared war to remove all debate about the legitimacy"

We did declare war, remember the authorization to use military force?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
On a lighter note... do I get ketchup for those cockroaches, Dale?

Cuz Tom Cruise? Ugh.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
"particularly those liberally-minded folks in the MSM, often want outcomes that contradict one another"

I think the MSM is far more concerned with creating and sustaining controversy than outcomes. If all our problems were solved or trivial, what would the MSM do for a living?

"I’ve yet to hear anybody make the case that a massive data-mining project will help fight terrorism."

So Elrod, you’d prefer that the details of the program be revealed so that we can be sure it has benefit? Here’s how it might as well read:
"Dear Mr. Terrorist, here is how we track your calls and the patterns we look for. We’re particularly interested in X, Y, and Z. Please continue your behavior. When we make changes, we’ll be sure to publish them widely."



 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I’ve yet to hear anybody make the case that a massive data-mining project will help fight terrorism
2 words....Abel Danger. I believe that was a data mining project that pointed to some of the 9/11 hijackers. Too bad the Gorelick wall prevented any actions from being taken...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
What a great little round-a-bout way to suggest that the Media’s and Democrat’s submission to political correctness resulted in the attacks on 9/11.
Feelin’ guilty, are we?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Rosensteel said:
Remember, racial profiling would not have picked up Jose Padilla or John Walker Lindh. Nor would it have picked up British shoebomber Richard Reid (presuming it was done on the basis of name and country of origin, and not appearance.
If the phone intercepts (Reid, Lindh, and Padilla were overseas)were based upon racial profiling and their names frequently came up in phone calls with suspected Muslim terrorists it would lead to heightened scrutiny of them. So yes, racial profiling could expose those that are not Arabic.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Dale, this is a legitimate point to make.

However, speaking as a privacy-outraged liberal:

First of all, a serious problem with all of these programs - completely separate from their inherent costs and benefits - is that the Administration keeps breaking the law to implement them, bypassing the court system, and misleading just about everyone as to their existence. Meanwhile high-level security folks are getting busted for corruption. A lot of Democratic senators suggest that some form of these programs might have been okay if approved by congress and/or overseen by the courts as the relevant laws requested. Skeptics of quietness, please see the FISA court. Been a lot of leaks from FISA for the warrantless wiretapping it conducted between 78 and 2001? No. So why all this bull****?

As for the programs themselves, I think your argument is simplistic, and that there are ways to find targets without scooping up everyone or using strict profiling (for example, starting with foreign intelligence and working backward, or, hell, monitoring public spaces, purchase records patterns, domestic plants, etc) But you’re right that there are cost-benefit tradeoffs.
Personally, I’d rather have a marginally higher risk of death by terrorist than allow my privacy to dissapear.
I’d also settle for profiling over placing the whole damn country under suspicion, although absolute-race-based-sweep-up-everyone-profiling is counterproductive and inefficient.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
is that the Administration keeps breaking the law to implement them, bypassing the court system, and misleading just about everyone as to their existence
That’s part of the problem, it’s always the interpretation of the law....and from what I can see not EVERYONE is misled about their existence. A lot of our fine CongressCritters seem to know about them and only claim to feel outrage when a program they have been briefed on, and allegedly are in oversight of, suddenly ends up being trotted out as horrid examples of government(preferably Republican) run amok by the MSM.

If the law were clearly broken they wouldn’t need review committees and independent investigations. If the laws were as clearly broken as you claim, Nancy Pelosi and her buds would be much more vehement about it, and yet they continue to mumble about possible illegality instead of banging on it loudly like a Salvation Army drum.

If the best they can muster is "possibly illegal" then I’m afraid you have to grant the alternative "possibly" legal is also plausible.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Feelin’ guilty, are we?
Shark,
Now why on earth should I feel guilty?

I think the MSM is far more concerned with creating and sustaining controversy than outcomes. If all our problems were solved or trivial, what would the MSM do for a living?
This is just silly.
“What would the MSM do for a living?”
Do you watch the news?
“Creating and sustaining controversy…” ?!?
Apparently you don’t watch the news. Because it seems that the only, “creating and sustaining controversy”, that seems to be to the benefit of the MSM is the latest American Idol scandal.
Every time the MSM marquee’s an Oprah headline, the ratings go up. Every time the MSM headlines an NSA story, the public seems to care not. I’ve got a bet for you, Mr. Unknown. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that if you were to ask any Joe Sixpack about the details regarding Ryan Seacrest vs. the details regarding Gen. Hayden, seven of ten will be able to tell you about Seacrest and not about Gen. Hayden.

Any takers?
I doubt it.

It would seem that the MSM would be better off financially to continuously discuss Tom-Kat’s gravidity than to discuss the issues of the day.
That’s why you come here, isn’t it? That’s why I come here. Well,… that and Dale’s geniality.

But apparently, the MSM asking tough questions is too much to bear for you. Off to Aruba with you.

Move along…, nothing to see here…
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Pogue, you’re missing my point. I’m speaking generally, not specifically about the NSA case. Yes, Joe 6-pack on average probably does know more about American Idol scandals than the NSA issue, but that has nothing to do with my point. Just because the American public is disinterested in a topic (NSA) doesn’t mean the media isn’t trying to hype it up.

My point is that the media thrives on controversy - generating it, sustaining it. They do it with American Idol, the NSA case, every damn thing. I quit watching the news because of this more than any particular bias. The evidence is overwhelming. Sure, they sometimes ask tough questions, but usually it’s more about generating hype than a pursuit of the truth.

Maybe you see the news differently. Maybe you think it’s just packed full of people more concerned with truth than ratings. I think not. I’ll bet you that it’s impossible to find 5 minutes of coverage (outside of the sports and weather) that isn’t presented in a manner to create controversy as opposed to solving problems. Try watching the news with a critical eye if you don’t. I don’t know how anyone can stand to watch it. It’s an insult to my intelligence.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Why is everyone talking about "racial profiling"? "Profiling" and "racial profiling" aren’t the same thing.

It’s interesting to note how quickly the word "racial" pops in there. It’s even more interesting to see it when a commenter says:
Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government’s snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab."
Pure and total speculation. No one knows what Leahy would say upon the discovery that the NSA was targeting phone calls to Arabs from Arabs.
Uh huh. Yeah. Funny how "profiling" quickly transmogrified into "racial profiling" in the comments section, though, huh?

So, yeah, I think we can predict what Leahy and his ilk would say with a fair degree of accuracy.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Uh huh. Yeah. Funny how "profiling" quickly transmogrified into "racial profiling" in the comments section, though, huh?

So, yeah, I think we can predict what Leahy and his ilk would say with a fair degree of accuracy.


Funny how "profiling" quickly transmogrified into "racial profiling" in the comments section!?

Well that’s just stupid.
It was your man Steyn that brought up racial profiling. You sited the article.

Whatever.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Hey, unknown, I can’t believe it either - I agree with you. Sure, the media thrives on creating controversy. It’s a much more powerful bias, being based on money, than any political one.

On the other hand, when they’re deciding where to create controversy, the usually pick things they think... are inhrently controversial. Meaning, people ought to be thinking about them and aruging.

What’s wrong with that?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
What’s wrong with what? Their choice of topics?

For argument’s sake, let us assume that everything they pick to do a story on is something that "people ought to be thinking about and arguing."

(But that just isn’t the case. They often go on and on about the trivial. They avoid important topics all the time, especially with any serious depth. Even media that has more space and time for deeper treatment often fail to adequately cover the topic well.)

Anyway the problem isn’t that they pick controversial subjects, it’s how they present them: superficially, with plenty of hype on top. They aren’t typically after any good outcomes (ignoring ratings of course) if by good outcomes we mean solving problems. Of course there are exceptions but the rule is sizzle over substance. I don’t think the media, especially the televised media, adds much value to the discourse. In fact, I think they are harmful.

And by the way, I retract my earlier given exception on the sports and weather. They are both hyped all the time too. Where I live, we can’t just have a regular storm report. It’s got to be 360 Live Doppler StormTracker Oh My God We Think The End of The World Is Here Now (Again) kind of storm. Every f*ck*ng time.

I think I’d feel quite soulless reporting news like this after only a very short while.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
It was your man Steyn that brought up racial profiling. You sited the article.
Uh, no. Steyn predicted that "racial profiling" would be the cry of Sen. Leahy and his ilk. A prediction that was quickly borne out in the comments section.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
**Anyway the problem isn’t that they pick controversial subjects, it’s how they present them: superficially, with plenty of hype on top. They aren’t typically after any good outcomes (ignoring ratings of course) if by good outcomes we mean solving problems. Of course there are exceptions but the rule is sizzle over substance. I don’t think the media, especially the televised media, adds much value to the discourse. In fact, I think they are harmful.**

All right. Let’s say I agree with you.

You’re not going to love this, but this is a textbook example of market-based systems creating crappy outcomes. Specifically, perverse incentives. Even more specifically, sensationalized news creates greater short-term profit for the agency running it, with an externalized cost to the "public good" of accurate and substantive dissemenation of information.

Of course, a market system defender would say that markets in general have not failed, just this specific one, the problem being the firm does not incur any costs in proportion to the cost they impose on society for their crappy news. The question is how to fix that. This is a lot like the struggle to create a viable economic model to reflect pollution costs to society back onto the firms that produce them.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Glasnost, it may be a market failure, but if it is, it’s a failure of enough individuals chosing to ignore the provided service and product and/or demand better. To be blunt, assuming my premise is correct, there are too many people with low standards; too many people who are not skeptical enough and independently minded.

So what’s the solution to that? Unfortunately there are many people who feel so strongly about their solution that they are willing to force everyone else to accept it (via the law or actual physical force), ususally under the premise that it’s for their own good. This sort of thinking crosses political boundries. These sorts of people are generally arrogant and impatient. They are never content to let problems work themselves out over time. They never think to create a market-based (non-coercive) solution of their own. They are never content to solve these problems with non-coercive means. I reject that. A world where adults must be forced into doing what others consider to be appropriate behavior is not a world worth living in.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Uh, no. Steyn predicted that "racial profiling" would be the cry of Sen. Leahy and his ilk.
Uh.., yeah!?
He predicted it. And I’m talking about his prediction and how absurd it is.

Is this another one of your drinking games?
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://

 
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