Moralists and people without faith in capitalist economies can heckle and jibe Adm. John Poindexter after he officially resigned his Pentagon post. The man who lied to Congress regarding a grand scheme that actually paid terrorists off in attempts to aid terrorism against the Nicaraguan people in Latin America (the Iran-Contra scandal, remember?) was being true to his nature, really. If you’re going to be so crass as to fund terrorism, what’s so terrible about turning a buck off betting when or where innocent people might die? As 9/11 showed, suave CIA analysts with specialized degrees in Soviet Russia know next to nothing about Middle East intrigues. Better to let market forces predict such events.
As sure as hydrochloric acid eats through human flesh, the American public will beat merciless paths toward money. Never mind ethics or such outworn notions as human decency. Besides, just think of all the reading we’ll do before placing our next bet on a $100 contract for 37 percent of par value that Al-Qaeda’s next strike will fall within the boundaries of Salt Lake County, or a $100 contract for 50 percent of par value that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will next call for the full-scale invasion of Iran? (These are only hypothetical scenarios, of course, but the word from bookies is that placing money on the second example isn’t exactly stupid.) Imagine: People across the nation will drop their scheduled viewing of reality TV to read up on Middle East affairs. Experts on the region will attain a cachet similar to that of sports writers and commentators.
Of course, this same market could apply to any political situation. What are the chances that an ACLU suit joined by the First Unitarian Church against Salt Lake City over the Main Street Plaza easement will result in more rancorous letters to the editor? Place your bets now.
& ull; Scams calling: People who signed up for the Federal Trade Commission’s no-call registry are being hit by ... unsolicited sales calls. Solicitors offer to help people list their names and phone numbers onto the registry in exchange for a fee, according to The New York Times. In reality, no fee’s needed to list your number onto the registry, and the commission never hired third parties to help people sign on to the new list.
& ull; Compensation across nations: As per the instructions of a federal judge in Washington, D.C., United States soldiers captured and tortured by Iraqi officers during the 1991 Persian Gulf War will receive nearly $1 billion in compensation from frozen Iraqi assets. No word yet on whether the families of an estimated 6,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the Iraq war, or children maimed by U.S. cluster bombs, will receive any monetary compensation from the U.S. government.
& ull; Required reading: Last year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made news after filing suit over a required course book about the Koran. That didn’t jibe with Bible Belt sensibilities. Now students at the same university are aghast at having to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed, about minimum-wage workers in America. Students labeled the book “liberal propaganda” and “anti-Christian,” according to The New York Times.