The Roth Effect: We Need to Be Better

 

U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Logistics Group (1st MLG) burn black water aboard Taqaddum, Iraq, September 22, 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jason W. Fudge.)

You all know I loves me some Marines. Even if you’ve been a civilian your entire life, once your son or daughter joins the Corps you become a member of the extended family. If every Marine is your child’s brother and sister, then all of those Marines become your sons and your daughters. And when they put themselves on the line and leave their health on the battlefield it is up to us, the people that they fought for, to demand the government not abandon them once they leave the service – and this true for all the services, not just the Corps.

The guest on this week’s Roth Effect podcast, Matthew Betley, is a ten-year veteran of the Marines who was exposed to open burn pits in Iraq. Simply put, the Marines were disposing of waste by burning it and it included everything from chemicals to human waste. The smoke hung over our Marines in a toxic cloud almost every day. In time Betley would be separated from the Corps and return home to battle a new foe: the Veterans Administration. Because he was a successful author and columnist, he was better equipped to battle the VA’s bureaucracy than most. That’s not the case for everyone.

Big votes are coming soon on impeachment and in Iowa. Join Jim and Greg as they dive into reports suggesting three Senate Democrats are torn between convicting and acquitting President Trump. But will any of them actually buck their party? They also shudder at reports that the head of the Harvard chemistry department took taxpayer-funded research grants, only to pass his discoveries along to the Chinese for a very handsome sum of money – and he’s not alone. And while Jim generally gives high marks to Florida Sen. Rick Scott, he is exasperated to see Scott launching ads in Iowa which most analysts see as a thinly veiled preview of a 2024 White House bid.

10 Year-Marine Corps officer, advocate of victims of burn pits and thriller writer of books like Overwatch and Rules of War, Matt Betley joins Carol Roth to talk about how perseverance has informed all aspects of his life. In addition to his advocacy work, Matt and Carol talk about his journey to sobriety and give you an inside look into the struggles that combat veterans deal with in terms of their health and the VA.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewBetley and on Facebook via his fan page.

Pull up a stool for another busy day on the Three Martini Lunch.  Join Jim and Greg as they call out Joe Biden for falsely insisting the Obama-Biden administration never used military action apart from congressional authorization.  They also hammer CNN for blatantly siding with Elizabeth Warren in her accusation that Bernie Sanders told her a woman could not get elected president – a charge Sanders strongly denies.  And they unload on the radical Bernie Sanders campaign field organizer caught on tape threatening to burn down Milwaukee and other cities if Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination at the convention this summer.

Lots of Friday fun on today’s Three Martini Lunch! Join Jim and Greg as they celebrate the Dow Jones crossing 29,000 for the first time on Friday and enjoy an economy that is staying stronger than many experts predicted. They also slam Pete Buttigieg for suggesting the doomed Ukrainian airliner was “caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat” instead of simply stating that it was shot down by Iran. And they dissect the stunning news that Tom Steyer is suddenly in second place among Democrats in South Carolina.

Join us for a busy news day on the Three Martini Lunch. Today, Jim and Greg discuss Iran’s missile strike injuring no one in Iraq, leading President Trump to announce new sanctions but no new military action. They also discuss whether the Ukrainian airliner crash in Iran was a coincidence or something more sinister. In addition, they’re glad to see Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann receiving a settlement from CNN after the network attacked over his encounter with an American Indian near the Lincoln Memorial last year – all because Sandmann was wearing a MAGA hat. And they try not to lose their breakfast as MSNBC not only carries the Soleimani funeral live but fawns all over the legacy of a man known for killing hundreds of American service members and slaughtering innocents at home and abroad.

Join us for three Iran-related martinis for you today. First, Jim and Greg are glad to see the likes of Russia and China offering nothing but word salad as no nation commits arms or manpower to Iran in the wake of the Soleimani strike. They also cringe as the Pentagon has to walk back a letter stating the U.S. Army would leave Iraq, only to have Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley explain the letter was just a poorly worded draft that doesn’t accurately express our policy and was never intended to go public. And they unload on California Rep. Ro Khanna for suggesting that Pres. Trump retaliating against Iran could warrant another article of impeachment, with Jim wondering if the Democrats are starting an impeachment of the month club.

A Little Too Close

 

I’ve been reading about the death of Soleimani and quietly thinking that this is a good thing, especially when I read that he was the source of the IEDs that have been such a curse over in that part of the world. I’m also aware of how despotic the whole Iranian regime is, and that there are vast numbers of Iranians who have been killed.

Now, I still think it is positive that this evil person is no longer here on earth to continue his evil deeds, and I also realize that this will probably escalate the tensions in the Middle East, with troops being put on alert. But today at church, I got a serious punch in the gut over it all.

We’ve got three compelling martinis to help you ease back into that first day back at work or school.  Join Jim and Greg as they applaud comedian Ricky Gervais for hammering Hollywood for its hypocrisy and self-importance at the Golden Globe Awards Sunday evening on topics ranging from Harvey Weinstein to Jeffrey Epstein to Chinese sweat shops.  Jim also urges President Trump to stop threatening to strike cultural sites in Iran because military targets make much more sense and discussing cultural sites could turn other nations against us.  And they cringe as the video of Julian Castro endorsing Elizabeth Warren comes across as inauthentic, with Castro coming to Warren’s house, telling Warren how wonderful she is, and Warren agreeing with him.

Well, 2020 is certainly off to an explosive start.  Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the demise of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani and recount the evil carnage he perpetrated against U.S. forces and many others over the past two decades. They also realize that the targeting of Suleimani may well result in an Iranian response and wonder what the reality will soon be in the Middle East and beyond. And they analyze Marianne Williamson’s curious decision to lay off her entire national campaign staff but insist she’s still in the race.

Member Post

 

Plaudits for Congress and the President for enacting this week the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an important annual exercise that, for the first time since 1947, creates a new branch of our military, the Space Command. As with the Air Force’s creation in 1947 as our then 5th branch, it will take time to […]

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Member Post

 

On the Main Feed recently I saw the phrase “strengthen NATO” and I smirked. Then again, seeing just “NATO” makes me do that. I was going to post a typically irreverent comment but around here, NATO is no laughing matter. Instead, I will start a fresh thread, feign seriousness, and – as a frequent visitor […]

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It’s a bleak search for good news on the Three Martini Lunch.  Today, Jim and Greg cringe as reports show the federal government has been flailing unsuccessfully for a sound policy in Afghanistan, lying to the public about what’s been achieved, and wasting an obscene amount of taxpayer dollars.  They also react to the mass shooting committed by a Saudi military officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station Friday, in what increasingly appears to be an act of Islamic terrorism.  And they roll their eyes hard as the Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee claims his young son asked him a deep and probing question about the character of the president.

Member Post

 

Is the American Embassy in Guatemala City the spookiest building I ever saw? It was in 1981. I was wandering around at night, having got off the bus from the Mexican border, and hunting a hotel. I found one, but before I did, I happened on this structure. To judge now from online pictures, it […]

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Here’s How Defense R&D Affects US Productivity Growth

 

It’s not a natural impulse for politicians or activists to highlight trade-offs. Take cutting defense spending. Some Democratic presidential candidates envision a sizable reduction to the Pentagon’s budget if they’re elected. If that should happen, one possible program on the chopping block might be R&D investment. There is a lot of it, after all. A 2018 Congressional Research Service report found that in 2016 the United States spent $78.1 billion on defense R&D, “more than seven times as much on defense R&D than the rest of the OECD countries combined.”

And what do we get for all those tens of billions? That question is partially answered by a new working paper, “The Intellectual Spoils of War? Defense R&D, Productivity and International Spillovers” from Enrico Moretti, Claudia Steinwender, and John Van Reenen. Here’s what the researchers found (bold by me):

In the US and many other OECD countries, expenditures for defense-related R&D represent a key policy channel through which governments shape innovation, and dwarf all other public subsidies for innovation. We examine the impact of government funding for R&D – and defense-related R&D in particular – on privately conducted R&D, and its ultimate effect on productivity growth. We estimate models that relate privately funded R&D to lagged government-funded R&D using industry-country level data from OECD countries and firm level data from France. To deal with the potentially endogenous allocation of government R&D funds we use changes in predicted defense R&D as an instrumental variable. In both datasets, we uncover evidence of “crowding in” rather than “crowding out,” as increases in government-funded R&D for an industry or a firm result in significant increases in private sector R&D in that industry or firm. A 10% increase in government-financed R&D generates 4.3% additional privately funded R&D. An analysis of wages and employment suggests that the increase in private R&D expenditure reflects actual increases in R&D employment, not just higher labor costs. Our estimates imply that some of the existing cross-country differences in private R&D investment are due to cross-country differences in defense R&D expenditures. We also find evidence of international spillovers, as increases in government-funded R&D in a particular industry and country raise private R&D in the same industry in other countries. Finally, we find that increases in private R&D induced by increases in defense R&D result in significant productivity gains.

An Example Has Been Made: Pour Encourager les Autres

 

The now-fired Secretary of the Navy apparently sought to provide cover to senior NCIS, legal weasels, and an admiral over the SEAL teams, as they sought to slap the Commander in Chief in the face and cover up their own alleged criminal wrongdoing (now subject of another IG investigation). No military officer, of any rank, would tolerate such gross insubordination from a subordinate: “Sir, you didn’t put in a written order, so I didn’t have to do it.” Oh, but it was just a tweet, and we don’t like his tweets, and besides… Nonsense! In the words of Justice Scalia: “pure applesauce!”

The first two-star general for whom I directly worked gave me a great lesson in followership. He called attention to the way a staff training team reacted to him. The staff training team existed to exercise and develop staff in support of their commanders. The moment the commanding general opened his mouth, team members all had their notebooks out, pens poised and proceeded to write down every single word he said.

The general explained that that showed the doctrinally correct view of general officers’ words. All the words were to be treated as important guidance to their staff. The trainers now had the general’s words and were checking everything the staff did to see if it conformed, to see if the general’s staff was operating competently and correctly in support of the general.