Senator John Warner has announced that the Pentagon's idiotic mass-murder death pool -- really, what else should we call it? -- is being terminated. As we pay it our last respects, let's savor the enthusiasm with which law professor Glenn Reynolds, and others whom he quoted approvingly, responded to news that the death pool was being set up:
I think it's an excellent example of creative thinking, and the Pentagon deserves to be congratulated for it....
The notion that the dim-bulbs in Congress and the media should attack such a useful and proven idea as the Pentagon's is utterly absurd....
I was pleasantly surprised to see a bit of "out of the box" thinking on the government's part about how to evaluate the likelyhood of terror threats. Doesn't it just figure that a couple of maroons from the senate would complain so that they can be seen "taking the high ground?" I'd pay them the compliment of believing that they wrote the complaint for cynical reasons, but just watching them on TV is enough to lead one to conclude that they really are stupid enough to be making an issue of this on principle.
Now, I do understand the thinking behind the death pool. The Pentagon's statement (quoted in this morning's New York Times) was, in its way, rational:
"Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information," the Defense Department said in a statement. "Futures markets have proven themselves to be good at predicting such things as elections results; they are often better than expert opinions."
But it's one thing to bet on midterm elections at the Iowa Electronic Markets based on an unmistakable sense you've gathered at weekend barbecues that suburban white males are leaning strongly GOP. That's "dispersed and even hidden information" the concealment (or revelation) of which can't kill people. Information about terrorism is very, very different -- if you know a second 9/11 is coming, or have good reason to suspect this, you bloody well ought to tell the authorities and stop it, not try to finance a vacation from what you know or suspect.
It boggles the mind that the Pentagon didn't grasp this, nor do the market-worshiping Reynolds and his pals.
Remind me again: Which political wing is it that's supposed to be rife with brainiacs so besotted with their own theories that they're unable to recognize when those theories threaten the real lives of real people?