Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Modest Blogprosal

"Milton's Areopagitica is Often Credited with being the first work to argue for the free marketplace of ideas" I have no idea if he would have a blog if he were alive today unless we offered him money to do it.

There seem to be any number of blogs and webpages that make the point that the more than 360 billion dollars we've spent on the Iraq War could have been spent on schools, alternative energy sources, cancer research, or on getting the Yankees back to the world series. That’s all well and good, but it’s clear that freedom and democracy in Iraq are much more critical than these other items. Face it, public schools aren't run by private enterprise and thus have no chance to ever by as excellent as say "Walmart or McDonald's". It can't be proven that global warming is anthropogenic (caused by humans), so obviously that means that we humans shouldn't try to do anything about it. If we didn't die from cancer, we're just going to die from something else. As for the Yankees,who knows?

My friend Pogblog is fond of (to the point of being perseverative) pointing out on my blog that the war costs $200,000 a minute. Another way of looking at it is that we could have given every single Iraqi fourteen thousand dollars to stop fighting without having to kill 600 thousand of them or more than three thousand of our own soldiers along with a couple hundred private contractors and twenty journalists. Of course, you know this already. So why am I bringing it up yet again? No, I'm not turning into Mr. Pogblog. Somethinge else occured to me.

Just the other day, these vindictive left wing bloggers started jamming Jonah Goldberg's e-mail box with reminders that two years ago the conservative blogger had attempted to bet war critic and Middle Eastern Studies professor, Juan Cole, that Iraq would not be at Civil War, be well on its way to democracy, etc. by February of 2007. Goldberg was certain enough that he offered to put a thousand dollars on the line or was it online.

Given that Jonah Goldberg's other claim to fame is his own unwillingness to put anything other than money on the line when it comes to his convictions, this was impressive proof of the sincerity of his belief in the War. Some would say not as impressive as say maybe enlisting himself, but Goldberg has made it clear that he has other priorities than ensuring the safety of America and bringing democracy to the world.

I should mention that he's also the son of Lucianne Goldberg, arguably the mother of the Linda Tripp part of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He does not appear to be related to the professional wrestler with the same name.

In offering the bet, Goldberg pointed out that a thousand dollars was a lot of money as far as he was concerned. It's a lot of money as far as I'm concerned too. I then thought to myself, if a bright-sincere fellow like Jonah Goldberg genuinely believes he has more important things to do with his life than to fight in the war he has so vociferously supported, I asked myself "Well what is he doing?" at least when he's not appearing on Larry King or questioning Alec Baldwin's intelligence? Jonah Goldberg blogs.

If the first amendment is the cornerstone of Democracy, is there any purer expression of the first amendment than the blogosphere? Michelle Malkin, Freepublic, and Powerline regularly have heated exchanges with Kos, Huffington,Truthout, and Eschaton. To the best of my knowledge, they have never attempted to blow one another up, though apparently Anne Coulter got close a couple times. Who would doubt that blogging is ultimately democracy in action and freedom on the march? What better way to promote democracy than to blog? I'm inclinded to believe that Mr. Goldberg has a point.

It's very simple.Instead of spending the 367 billiion dollars on Iraq, why not simply pay anyone in the world who wants to blog about the joys of Democracy, freedom, and the moral superiority of the free market say fourteen thousand dollars/year. Think about the last two weeks. Instead of having all these people writing stupid posts about Anna Nicole Smith, Lisa Nowak or other love-crazed space shuttle pilots in adult diapers , Ted Haggard's being declared safely-heterosexual, and Kim Kardashian's home movies, we could have thousands of individuals industriously extolling the virtues of free elections and free markets. I've heard that there was some guy who even blogs regularly about the television show, American Idol.

In the 2004 election, President Bush argued forcefully that No Child Left Behind was not only an education program, but it was also his crime reduction and job creation program as well. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his claim is that the President has been able to achieve these things at a bargain price. The program was expected to have twenty two billion dollars behind it. It got thirteen instead. Imagine how the market-based incentives of No Blogger Left Behind would impact literacy. Even though, it's clear that many bloggers wouldn't meet basic literacy standards, research does suggest that those who read and write on a regular basis do eventually master the skill, particularly if it's supplemented with phonemic awareness.

Can you imagine how No Blogger Left Behind will further impact both unemployment and crime? If paid, the thousands of bloggers who pretend that their blogs are their jobs will,well, actually have a job. As individuals who spend substantial percentages of their time online, bloggers are repeatedly tempted by illegal online schemes to help Nigerian princes, invest in unlisted stocks for undercelebrated technologies, and to purchase potentially dangerous non-pharmaceutical male enhancement products (Am I the only one who always thought the problem for most of us was finding a sexual partner and not performing to Olympic standards with the one you have?).

Consider Global Warming or as some call it "Global Climate Change". Bloggers unquestionably contribute to the amount of hot air pumped into the atmoshpere, but blogging itself actually reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere. While it's not conclusively proven yet, yawning is likely do to an excess of carbon dioxide in the respiratory system. In the meantime, it has been conclusively proven that most blogging stimulates yawning for average people. Therefore, more bloggers more CO2 stored in people's bodies and brains instead of in the upper atmosphere. Even more helpful, yawning itself is highly contagious.

Thes are, of course, just collateral benefits of a proposal that happen to stand in marked contrast to the considerable collateral damage resulting from the current policy of invasion and occupation in the Middle East in the name of freedom and democracy. The direct benefits are even more exciting. For one, I suspect that this will serve to heal the red-blue divide among those who serve on the front line of debate. Second, a quick look at conservative and progressive blogs reveals a deep distrust of the mainstream media. This will certainly rile the special interest-fueled indignation of the corporatist media. Third, we won't have to wait for the senate to debate our involvement in the war. Anyone with a webspace can contribute to the solution. Think about it this way, even if it doesn't wind up doing anything to spread freedom and democracy, we'll still get a better return on investment than we've gotten in Iraq not to mention the small matter that this plan doesn't kill hundreds of thousands of people.

This is not a radical or new idea. Apparently, the Department of Defense and other government agencies have been paying for a free press from some time. No Blogger Left Behind would simply be cutting out the middleman in its attempt to bring together the moral imperatives of marketplace incentives and free speech/democracy.

It's been pointed out by some that I have a special interest in promoting this, because I myself have a blog. For that reason, I want to make it clear that I will refuse my foruteen thousand dollars a year as a matter of principle. I will, however, ask for a modest processing fee of five dollars/blog from every blogger who decides to get with the program to cover the expenses I have incurred in making this proposal. In the meantime, I have opened a paypal account so that you will not have to deal with the hassle of applying for approval as a qualifying blog by going through the U.S. Government, thus cutting companies like Halliburton out of the deal. I have set the handling cost at this special rate so that I will have the greatest incentive possible to approve as wide a variety of blogs as I can.

In the meantime, I'm proud to be doing the same important work as Jonah Goldberg. I'd bet a thousand dollars that he takes the money too.



At 2/13/2007 07:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't use No Child Left Behind as a role model. No matter how you feel about the focus of NCLB, the program is grossly underfunded.

NCLB has set a lot of lofty goals, but it really hasn't given a plan of attack.

At 2/13/2007 08:53:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Teaching for the future,
thanks for coming by and your comments. The NCLB section was meant to be ironic, but maybe it didn't come off that way.

At 2/15/2007 12:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid, cl, that tho you did trumpet the grisly figure that we are spending $820,000 per minute on the MilIndust Budget & so400,000th and got a just gruffaw in on Test'Em Til They Drop & we'll call it education just like we're gonna dub whatever remains (not a dead joke) in Raq a democracy, I feel you slighted the really important news to the American famly. I can rest easier now that I know Pastor Ted is all heterguy all the time. Only 3 weeks of rehab too. It makes me so proud again to be an American.

At 2/15/2007 08:06:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I think all the credit goes to Pastor Ted. They've told him that now that he's cured, he needs to move out of Colorado Springs and find some other line of work. Supposedly he's entered a master's program in counseling of some kind. I was going to invite him to blog so he can qualify for the subsidy and I'll even waive my 5 dollar handling fee.

At 2/17/2007 04:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you recall that Abbie Hoffman suggested that if we had to eat what we killed, wars would cease overnight -- another truly modest proposal indeed.

At 2/17/2007 08:41:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I'm ready to support you if it means more sense making proposals like this Chancelucky.

Why can't I be you? Because I'm busy figuring out what colour sweaters look best on me.

At 2/19/2007 02:24:00 AM, Blogger inkyhack said...

I recently hear Juan Cole lecture. Interesting guy. I also took his photo.

At 2/19/2007 04:44:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I'd definitely like to hear Juan Cole speak some time.

I think the whole odd thing about the Jonah Goldberg bet was that Goldberg reprinted Cole's reply to him to prove that the bet hadn't been finalized. Cole's reply actually criticized Goldberg's crassness for even thinking about betting on human tragedy. It seemed clear to me that Goldberg didn't get that at all.


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