I don’t expect that my wonderful wife and I will win the Mega Millions or Powerball lotteries. However, I do believe that we can win and my belief, no doubt, exceeds the miniscule probability (asymptotically approaching zero, remember) that we will win.
Growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors has left me less than an optimist. My inability to find a satisfying career post-baseball has amplified my pessimism. For example, I think we have basically no chance of buying the “Goose Bumps” house.
However, I still find myself thinking that we could win a lottery. In my diminished mental state, though, I try to rationalize being OK with only matching the five main numbers and missing the Mega Ball or Power Ball. That could still yield as much as $5 million, pre-tax, in the Mega Millions. Still, that thinking is an obvious manifestation of being a pessimist at the core.
We are a product of nature and nurture. NO behavioral paradigm, not even being an optimist, is always the optimal course of action. That’s one of the difficult aspects of being human, knowing when to deviate from one’s normal behavior. I firmly believe that being flexible and being objective are very important in achieving one’s goals.
I thought this article from CEPA, the Center for European Policy Analysis, was interesting. It’s titled, “It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to Defeat Russia.”
Here are some key points; please indulge me as I intend to quote heavily from the piece.
“Altogether, the Biden administration received Congressional approval for $40bn in aid for Ukraine for 2022 and has requested an additional $37.7bn for 2022. More than half of this aid has been earmarked for defense.
These sums pale into insignificance when set against a total US defense budget of $715bn for 2022. The assistance represents 5.6% of total US defense spending. But Russia is a primary adversary of the US, a top tier rival not too far behind China, its number one strategic challenger. In cold, geopolitical terms, this war provides a prime opportunity for the US to erode and degrade Russia’s conventional defense capability, with no boots on the ground and little risk to US lives.
The Ukrainian armed forces have already killed or wounded upwards of 100,000 Russian troops, half its original fighting force; there have been almost 8,000 confirmed losses of armored vehicles including thousands of tanks, thousands of APCs, artillery pieces, hundreds of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and numerous naval vessels. US spending of 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability seems like an absolutely incredible investment. If we divide out the US defense budget to the threats it faces, Russia would perhaps be of the order of $100bn-150bn in spend-to-threat. So spending just $40bn a year, erodes a threat value of $100-150bn, a two-to-three time return.
The war has served to destroy the myth that Russian military technology is somehow comparable to that of the US and West. Remember that Ukraine is using only upgraded second generation US technology but is consistently beating whatever Russia’s military can deploy. Wars are shop windows for defense manufacturers; any buyer in their right mind will want the technology made by the winner. Putin’s misjudgment has merely provided a fantastic marketing opportunity for its Western competitors.”
Ukraine is fighting for its very existence having been brutally attacked by an evil dictator. Those in the US who question aid to Ukraine are showing their ignorance and their lack of connection to such barbarism. I know from my parents just how evil the world can be.
The automotive well has run dry. I suspect many of you are tired of reading about whether I’m going to buy a Cadillac XLR or Pontiac Solstice GXP, or maybe a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk.
I do not have the mental stamina for another post series like Cars: A To Z or Threes And Sevens. Maybe, just maybe, if we buy the “Goose Bumps” house and I really have a place to comfortably and safely store another car, then I might resume writing about my choices.
The average blog exists for only 100 days. In two weeks, this blog will be five years old. I fully understand how blog authors just run out of steam.
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8 thoughts on “The Last Vestige Of Optimism”
I grew up driving those cars from the forties and fifties. Ford, Mercurys and Buicks were my favorites. A red and black sporty 1953 Buick coupe I liked. Fifty Ford coupes and convertibles. Studebakers handled well at top speed around the curved roads of North Georgia. I knew I was driving death traps but those were the only cars we had. Sliding around curves at eighty or ninety miles an hour or better was a real rush of excitement. Good to break the boredom of rural life. Have no desire to drive those old cars again. Like the way my 2012 Honda CRV handles. And I can see out of it. As for Ukraine, too many good people are suffering and dying for me to rejoice at any harm to the Russians that might come out of it. I don’t understand why we have to be enemies of Russia. It has not always been so. Hate to see them suffer also. I keep hoping for progress toward peace . Wasted optimism on my part I suppose. Distant light that keeps receding before us as we approach. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Many thanks for reading and for joining the conversation.
The analysis of the American military aid to Ukraine is spot on. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed it, sir. Happy New Year!
By aiding our friends in the Ukraine, we are opposing a dictator. So possibly we have learned the lesson which started World War II, when the dictator Hitler was appeased rather than opposed? In high school I read the book “The Bridge at Andau”, by James Michener about the Hungarian revolt of October/November 1956 against the Russians. We have several copies here in our library for the grandchildren when they are older. I am rereading the book. The one thing that pops out already is how much the Russians are/were hated for their brutality, by everybody in Eastern Europe and the East Asian Republics. There were committed Hungarian communists who rose up and joined the revolt. There were North Koreans and Greeks working in the Hungarian factories who also joined the revolt. When there is oppression, most people will rise up and fight back when others inspire them. There are some reports coming out of Russia, that even the Russian people are beginning to oppose the war and Putin. When Putin has to bring in mercenaries, Georgian thugs and Iranian Revolutionary Guards to supplement his own army, he is in trouble.
Thanks for sharing, Philip.
I appreciate the analysis of the economics of our investment in helping Ukraine. I don’t mind my tax dollars being used to assist in this war.
Glad you appreciated the exposition. Happy New Year, JS!
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