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"Instead, we are all individuals, and we all have different wants and values." True, to a degree. There are certain things that are "necessary" on a society-wide basis and one cannot deny the federal govt's place in regulation and funding. Every society needs to agree with which priorities needs to be addressed on such a broad scale. Rural electrification in the 1930's, Interstate highways in the 1950's and now universal health care (which, IMO is long overdue). Our economic growth will be enhanced if (big IF) we can come up with a workable health care system. "System" is the operative word and currently we have just a mish-mash of standards and payment plans and only the federal govt has the reach to correct this situation. Medicare-for-all would be better than the proposals currently being entertained, but that's a political non-starter for some unknown reason. I wonder if Steve has any insight on how employer-based health insurance affects economic growth. What would be the effect of disengaging health insurance from the employer, like we do with auto and home and other insurance?
Torture and waterboarding are a different matter not pertinent to the issue at hand. I'll stand by my opinion that "announcing" the closure of Gitmo was not a rookie mistake. Obama's announcement, in fact, 1)was necessary, 2) has no material effect on our security, 3) is a continuation of the policy set forth by the previous administration since 2004 and 4) will reap benefits as we find out way back towards the moral authority that is our wont.
One other thing: Gitmo, in effect, has been in the process of being closed for 4 years. The number of detainees has decreased from 700 to about 200. The Bush administration had made a decision to reduce utilization of the facility for all the obvious reasons, they were just unable or unwilling to deal with the conundrum created by it's existence. The bottom line is that these suspected criminals should have been handled in a criminal process and not as POW's or non-state "detainees." If they committed crimes, then try them. Now the trail of evidence is so cold that prosecution is nearly impossible... but it doesn't change the impracticality of holding alleged criminals indefinitely.
Here's the deal. Holding detainees indefinitely on foreign soil without evidence is against international treaties and it is counter- productive to our relationships in the world. No less than General Powell, Sec Def Robert Gates, Adm Mullen (Chair, JCS), Gen Petraeus (Allied Cmdr) all agree that closing Gitmo was long overdue. Just because the Congress needs to pander to the fear-fetish of voters (altho I think they sell the voters' insight short on this) is not relevant to the goal. Could Obama have handled it with more finesse? Not really. The argument is that he needed to announce Gitmo's closure ASAP because it is such an egregious violation of the law... not to mention counter to US' interests. The mere announcement of Gitmo's closure effectively deflects the issue of Gitmo when Obama asks NATO allies for help in Afghanistan or the UN/China/Russia for help with nuclear proliferation.
Wow, I didn't realize economists were so funny! For a second I thought I had accidentally logged onto Jay Leno's website. For the record, John McCain had also promised to shut down Gitmo.