Front page
Silflay Hraka?

Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is.
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

bigwig AT

Friends of Hraka
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
Fragments from Floyd
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
The Greatest Jeneration
Ipse Dixit
Blog On the Run
Redwood Dragon
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Bo Cowgill
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Northwest Notes
The Blog from the Core
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Sasha Castel
Susskins Central Dispatch
Josh Heit
Aaron's Rantblog
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
Single Southern Guy
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Snooze Button Dreams
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
Geekward Ho
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
The Biomes Blog
See What You Share
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Pajama Pundits
Goddess Training 101
A & W
Medical Madhouse
Slowly Going Sane
The Oubliette
American Future
Right Side Redux
See The Donkey
Newbie Trucker
The Right Scale
Running Scared
Ramblings Journal
Focus On Reality
Wyatt's Torch

July 29, 2003

Gambling With The Future

The primary objection Senators Dorgan and Wyden have to Darpa's proposed terrorism futures market is not that it won't work, but that it's politically incorrect and offensive to some nebulous "other".

"Can you imagine," Mr. Dorgan asked, "if another country set up a betting parlor so that people could go in — and is sponsored by the government itself — people could go in and bet on the assassination of an American political figure?"

One can see the setup of the proposed market here, but go quickly, as the Pentagon has already caved in and agreed to defund the project.

It's possible that a terrorism futures market wouldn't work as advertised, even though futures markets are often accurate predictors of, as the NYT article says "oil prices, elections and movie ticket sales." Finding out would be cheap, as the total projected cost of the program was only 8 million dollars through 2005, less than peanuts when it comes to the Federal budget.

But now, thanks to knee jerk political posturing and Pentagon spinelessness, we'll never know if such a system would have saved lives or not. Senators Dorgan, Wyden and Daschle have declared that certain strategies in the War on Terrorism are so off limits that they cannot even be experimented with, because they are politically incorrect. Senator Daschle also contends that the profit motive will actually spur more acts of terrorism, as if the thought of a few more dollars would spur an otherwise lawful citizen to start building bombs.

I wonder how the Senator thinks the terrorists would go about collecting the money once they've supposedly earned it. I should think any Al-Qaida member worth his salt would be just a wee bit suspicious about contacting the federal government when it comes to withdrawing his winnings.

I'm sure knowing that the United States has eschewed rudeness in the fight against terrorism will be a comfort to the families of its next victims. Perhaps they'll call Senator Dorgan to thank him.

If I were a betting man, and I am, since the first thing I thought of when I saw the proposed futures market was "I can't wait to sign up for that," I would bet that the Senators' animus against a market in terrorism has nothing to do with it's supposedly offensive nature.

The overview of the plan said the market would focus on the economic, civil and military futures of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey and the consequences of United States involvement with those nations. The creators of the market envision other trappings of existing markets like derivatives.

I suppose it's just a coincidence that on the day Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal is in Washington, three key Democratic senators publicly come out against a program that would model terror activity within his kingdom. Does anyone doubt that Saudi Arabia would be one of the most popular futures purchases in such a system?

Quite a day for the Saudis and their money in Washington, between killing off this program and the Bush refusal to declassify the 28-page section of the congressional report into the Sept. 11 attacks. Nothing like buying up both sides of the aisle to cover one's bets.

If you'd like to call Senator's Daschle, Dorgan, or Wyden to express yourself, here are some phone numbers;
Byron Dorgan - 202-224-2551
Ron Wyden - 202-224-5244
Tom Daschle - 1-800-424-9094

Here are their email addresses and contact forms;
Byron Dorgan -
Ron Wyden - Contact form
Tom Daschle - Contact form

And here are some questions. I'll be asking them myself once this is posted.

Given the size of the Federal budget, why do you think that 8 million dollars is too much to spend experimenting with a new way of combating terrorism?

Is your principal objection to the terrorism futures market based on the belief that it will not work, or that it is offensive to citizens of other nations?

If so, why do you feel more strongly about the feelings of foreign citizens than you do about protecting the lives of Americans?

Have you had any contacts with representatives of the Saudi or any other Middle Eastern government in which the terrorism futures market was discussed?

Will you state categorically that Saudi influence had nothing to do with your position on this matter?

Will you refuse to accept political donations from companies or individuals in America that do business with or are otherwise associated with the Saudi Arabian government?

I'll post the responses, assuming I get any. Though, now that I think about it, is the federal government even needed when it comes to developing a terrorism futures market? Given that there's already a fake market for Blogshares, how hard would it be to set up an online version of the terrorism futures market, and use fake money for it?

Just because the government refuses to explore all possible avenues when it comes to defending the populace doesn't mean we should. Real money isn't even needed. I expect people would participate just for the notoriety that would come from a successful prediction.

Besides, the Saudis can't possibly buy all of us.

Posted by Bigwig at July 29, 2003 01:07 PM | TrackBack
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.

Here's a post by someone who's thinking along similar lines:

Posted by: Graham Lester at July 29, 2003 02:26 PM

I realize that current academic speculation about predicting unpredictable events by eliciting widespread input from varied sources (as per the stock market)is pretty au courant now, apparently also among the neocons (and cons like John Poindexter)...but really, now, is betting on somebody's assasination "politically incorrect," or just "fucked up?"

Posted by: kozad at July 29, 2003 11:19 PM

As a retired military intelligence analyst, I welcome any opportunity to rate this profession on a basis other than rank, position, or annual income. When I worked in Washington, DC, there were civilian counterparts who were being paid 2 or 3 times as much as myself, but I considered my work to be as good as theirs. A lot of insights are logical extrapolations from open sources. For instance, I consider Sen. Lieberman to be in greater danger from Islamic extremist attack than any other Democratic presidential candidate because of his Jewish background. But even with him the level of risk is low - I don't think that terrorist organizations consider ANY of the Democrats to be a threat to them.

Posted by: Bloodthirsty Warmonger at July 30, 2003 12:38 PM
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.

Remember personal info?