Let’s say you’re a State Department official, and you learn that in a country with a strong terrorist presence, there may be a bomb attack on the United States embassy. Do you 1) close the embassy, thereby protecting the lives of the personnel there, or 2) Keep the embassy open, cause you know, to hell with them darn terrorists. Bring ‘em on! Before you answer, keep in mind that if you close the embassy, terrorists might interpret it as a “sign of weakness.” And how many lives is that worth?
If you answered something above “zero,” to the last question, guess what – you’re qualified to be on Fox News. I give you Republican uber-pundit Bill Kristol:
Passengers wait at a security
checkpoint at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. (Flickr/Josh Hallett)
During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry was asked what it would take for Americans to feel safe from terrorism. "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," he said. Comparing this potential future to the way we now feel about prostitution and organized crime, he went on, "It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, accompanied by Sens. Tom Harkin and Barbara Mikulski, speaks during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Schoolhouse Rockundersold the excruciating difficulty involved in making a bill a law. As the health-care reform process nears its merciful end, many important questions must still be decided, most of which have received only passing attention by the media.
If you only watch television news, you might think that the conferees tasked with merging the House and Senate bills really only need to work out the public option and the abortion provisions. The truth, though, is that those matters are pretty much settled. There will be no public option, and the Senate's incredibly restrictive language on abortion will probably win out over the appallingly restrictive House version.
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., talks with reporters following the announcement that he will support the health-care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
There is a classic economics experiment called the "ultimatum game," which demonstrates how our decision-making process isn't solely determined by rational calculations. In the experiment, one subject is usually given a small sum of money and told to divide it however he wants between himself and another subject. If the second subject accepts his offer, they both keep the cash. But if the second subject rejects the offer, neither of them gets anything. Rationality suggests that the second subject should accept any offer, since even $1 is better than nothing.