Back to previous post: How Bad?

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Winning Hearts and Minds

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 23, 2005

Making the magnetic ribbons pay
Posted by Patrick at 08:47 AM * 47 comments

Fred Clark has a brilliant idea for how to start financing the ongoing costs of occupying Iraq.

Comments on Making the magnetic ribbons pay:
#1 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 09:45 AM:

I agree.

=====

Those yellow fake ribbon magnets, have a lot in common with urine.

#2 ::: TJIC ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 10:53 AM:

I'm all in favor of funding government programs by opt-in programs, instead of taxes. As a borderline anarchist, I'd like to reduce government's powers to "holding a trademark on the ribbon". We could then fund military operations entirely from sales of yellow ribbons, entirely fund NASA through a black star-speckled ribbon, entirely fund ADFC and other welfare programs through a ribbon, entirely fund the Education department through another ribbon, etc.

As Slacktivist points out, under the current system, we're not the ones making the decisions, and we're not really involved in, or opting in to, the government's decisions.

#3 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 11:13 AM:

The problem with Fred's idea, brilliant as it is, is that it assumes one has a hundred dollars to spare. I lack that, even as happy as I would be to buy a 'real' yellow ribbon, as opposed to one that promotes fake patriotism and returns zero percent net profit to the troops.

TDIJ, that's the problem with your proposal. Opt-in government only works for those who can afford to opt-in. Starving college students, people trapped in minimum wage jobs, and the elderly can't afford to opt-in to their government, as much as they depend on it. The beauty of the New Deal and the welfare state is that it harnesses the wealth of those that have to support those that have not. As New Orleans has shown, a government that does not care for its neediest is a government not worthy of its mandate.

#4 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 11:35 AM:

Saw a magnetic ribbon on a car yesterday, with a nice red, white and blue flag pattern. The text on it said just pretend everything is okay.

#5 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Red, white, and blue: the colours of the Union flag.

Just pretend nothing happened in 1776...

#7 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 12:33 PM:

the problem with satire in these sad times is that it's really hard to get in ahead of the news

#8 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 01:05 PM:

Luthe: If you're obviously driving a beat up car and struggling to feed the kids, or if you're a college student scraping by... something tells me nobody would criticise you for "Not giving to the troops".

I don't think the inability of the destitute or just-getting-by to contribute is cause for dismissing the idea. (Maybe adding a $25.00 version. The truly destitute still couldn't manage it, but you'd be surprised how much more revenue it might generate.)

Should this idea be implemented, it wouldn't be the person in the rustbucket snarled at, it would be the guy in the Hummer.


Julia: Ugh, did you notice the "people wouldn't know where their donations are going" bit in the article? That one line pretty much trashes the whole concept -- even if I would have considered it before.

#9 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 01:14 PM:

Yes; great idea. 'Yes' to various different ribbons supporting other causes, too: NASA, environment, et alia. 'Yes' to sliding-scale versions, so that people can opt in at different levels.

So; who needs to hear about it at the USO in order to start Phase 1?

#10 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 01:20 PM:

The first place I saw ribbon magnets for sale was at Fort Bragg, at a Family Readiness Group event. (They were doing short video greetings to their husbands & fathers; I was, IIRC, the only male there with more than a one-digit age, as I was down visiting my sister-in-law and niece while my brother flew MEDEVAC missions out of Balad.) $5 each, money to the FRG; I bought two, which are still sitting on my minifridge at work.

So, as far as I can tell, they started out as a way to actually support the troops (and their families); later, of course, they became a way to cover up that paint scratch on your Hummer H2.

#11 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 01:37 PM:

Luthe, another problem with Fred's idea is that the USO isn't part of the US Govt and would have no obligation to use the money to support the war.

And I thought the WWII Liberty Bonds were IOUs. The difference is that the govt. borrowed the money from countless patriotic citizens instead of whoever it's being borrowed from today.

#12 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 02:00 PM:

Julia -- so have we hit the point where the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?

#13 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 02:02 PM:

The one I want is the yellow infinity symbol (or perhaps moebius strip) with the word "Quagmire". Have seen it once in the wild.

#14 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 02:03 PM:

A-and, will the warblog talking point be, "What are you com-symps complaining about? This is what you wanted!" -- and for some reason I am thinking this should be the apolgiablog talking point response to complaints about the Bush admin expanding govt. spending...

#15 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 02:21 PM:

I realise that my pointing out this link will only undermine the ribbons-as-warbonds effort, but if any of you wants to create your own ribbon, you can check out this site:

Support Our Ribbons

(I particularly like my friend's ribbon, though it is not in the least political.)

#16 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 03:10 PM:

Well, it's pretty easy math. If they sold War Bonds, there would be some people buying them. Of course the Libertarians wouldn't like them (or at least I'd guess this after seeing the "Bonds are not free money" boilerplate that always comes in my Voters Information Guide and is attributed to the Libertarians), but it's better than a magnet accessory.

#17 ::: Bronwyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 03:51 PM:

Laina: While war bonds are IOUs, they're IOUs to your own people who chose to loan you money. Not IOUs to god knows who, albatrosses around the neck of an entire nation, made without your knowledge, agreement, or any means of opting out short of emigration.

#18 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 04:18 PM:

The IOUs that fund our current national deficit are still made out to people who volunteer to take that debt. Government bonds are all voluntary. Special purpose bonds get special purpose names, because they're attempting to end-run an economic decision by providing a moral/ethical/personal/patriotic decision.

FWIW, a lot of the current deficit bonds are bought by the Chinese government. They buy them for reasons which are still a little... unclear.

#19 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 04:25 PM:

I have seen multiple yellow ribbons that say "Support the Troops -- Bring Them Home."

#20 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Kevin Andrew Murphy writes:

Well, it's pretty easy math. If they sold War Bonds, there would be some people buying them. Of course the Libertarians wouldn't like them (or at least I'd guess this after seeing the "Bonds are not free money" boilerplate that always comes in my Voters Information Guide and is attributed to the Libertarians), but it's better than a magnet accessory.

Why have to choose? With very little extra effort and cost, War Bonds could be printed on magnetic material, and one could prove one Supported Our Troops by displaying one's bonds on the back of one's SUV.

#21 ::: msw ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 05:39 PM:

War Bonds could be printed on magnetic material, and one could prove one Supported Our Troops by displaying one's bonds on the back of one's SUV.

Because people would steal them. And by people, I mean me.

#22 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 07:03 PM:

I've been thinking that those ribbons should be smaller, and made to be positioned on the dashboard near the gas gauge - as a reminder not to waste gas.

#23 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 07:58 PM:

Jon: That's the spot for the "If you drive alone, you're riding with bin Laden!" sticker.

My mom clearly remembers all the signs throughout her childhood exhorting people to do the patriotic thing and pick up hitchhikers.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 10:37 PM:

I was thinking this evening about one with that W they were using last election and the words "I'm Responsible". The Bushies probably won't get it (or won't get the full effect). (I keep getting this urge to vandalize Bush supporters' vehicles. I haven't done it - yet.)

#25 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 11:59 PM:

Jeremy: There was something similar abroad, as I recall, in the sixties. Something like, wouldn't it be great if the school library got full funding from the government, and the airforce had to run a fete to buy extra bombers?

#26 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 12:14 AM:

Dave Luckett, Jeremy:
I was just looking at the Northern Sun catalog and not only is it still around, but it's a close-out special:

“It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 12:38 AM:

Bruce Sterling wrote the bake sale idea into one of his novels. The staff of an air base set up a roadblock and coerced people into buying $20 cups of coffee and crumb cake so they could get enough money to pay the electric bill.

#28 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 12:44 AM:

"The staff of an air base set up a roadblock and coerced people into buying $20 cups of coffee and crumb cake so they could get enough money to pay the electric bill."

I think that sort of thing actually happens in Russia these days.

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 12:57 AM:

Pardon my French, but . . .

Oh, fuck:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1108972-1,00.html

'Prisoners were designated as PUCs (pronounced "pucks")—or "persons under control." A regular pastime at Camp Mercury, the report says, involved off-duty soldiers gathering at PUC tents, where prisoners were held, and working off their frustrations in activities known as "F____a PUC" (beating the prisoner) and "Smoke a PUC" (forced physical exertion, sometimes to the point of collapse). Broken limbs and similar painful injuries would be treated with analgesics, the soldiers claim, as medical staff would fill out paperwork stating the injuries occurred during capture. Support for some of the allegations of abuse come from a sergeant of the 82nd Airborne who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch quotes him as saying that, "To 'F____ a PUC' means to beat him up. We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs, and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day. To 'smoke' someone is to put them in stress positions until they get muscle fatigue and pass out. That happened every day. Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did that for amusement.

"On their day off people would show up all the time," the sergeant continues in the HRW report. "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all U.S. soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the cook."'

For amusement. To work off frustration.

The Administration will try to rewrite the victory conditions, but if the goal of the war was to establish a stable, democratic Middle East, we've lost. When this report comes out we will have, and deserve, zero credibility as a source of democracy and a model of the rule of law.

It's all over but more years of misery and lies as our leaders drag things out to save face.

#30 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 04:02 AM:

Saw a magnetic ribbon on a car yesterday, with a nice red, white and blue flag pattern. The text on it said just pretend everything is okay.

I have a warm regard for this sticker.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 10:02 AM:

Fernmonkey: Oh yeah. (For the record: I voted against him three times: 1994, 2000, 2004. I'm not sure he's worth the powder and shot it would take to blow him away.)

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Luthe: Fred says no one has the money, though perhaps he means that in aggregate to fund the war (we could, but the national will seems to be trending toward bread and circuses, and those are coming from the right. Tax and spend seems reasonable, far more reasonable than borrow and spend, but I digress).

The magnets annoy me. It isn't that I dislike them, in specific, but I have no way to know which ones are sincere (in the way Linus hopes his pumpkin patch are sincere), and which ones are just there to be visible.

Which makes me sneer at all of them.

The problem with the bonds he mentions (for Louisiana, and presumably Rita) is that the people who are making the plans are, in their own words, planning huge social experiments, and of a sort they seem to be keeping from being clear, and which I, for one, mistrust.

I doubt the bonds for this are going to be trumpeted as, "Help us pay KBR and Blackwater".


TK

#33 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Fernmonkey - the scary thing is that a lot of Bush supporters would embrace those stickers too.

#34 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2005, 09:32 PM:

Even if you hate this war and the moron that started it, you can support the troops (ordinary men and women, after all, trying to do an impossible job in a hostile environment) by going to www.anysoldier.com .

#36 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2005, 06:36 AM:

Larry: yup. I think you could probably get away with that one in the redder states.

#37 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2005, 11:48 AM:

This report in The Observer notes that the U.S. government already has a voluntary fundraising effort set up to pay for reconstruction of Iraq.

It's raised only US$600 since it was started earlier this month.

Compare that with how much private fundraising efforts have been able to pull together for rebuilding New Orleans.

#38 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Oops. It looks like julia got here first. Sorry about that.

#39 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 11:41 AM:

Around D.C. I routinely see cars with six or seven ribbon magnets covering the back. I'm waiting for the day when there are enough cars bearing enough ribbons all in the parking lot at once at work and, like some sort of ad hoc EMP, they wipe all of our hard drives.

#40 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 03:26 PM:

Thanks for the link to the magnetic ribbon place. You can design and order one of your very own which I'm going to do to replace the one that disappeared off my car. It was Support the Bill of Rights.

MKK

#41 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 05:28 PM:

Support the Bill of Rights is nice.

I was rather proud of this one.

#42 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 05:51 PM:

Fernmonkey: what a cool site!

#43 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2005, 02:59 PM:

"Stephan Jones" I accuse you because your're writing about the "torture" at Abu Graib is a pack of lies, which, if true, should subject you to to the courts, I accuse you of not being not a soldier at all, but a left f'n liar.

#44 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2005, 04:07 PM:

Diana, where did you get the idea that I was claiming to be a soldier?

Please look at my post of 9/24 again, more carefully this time.

I was QUOTING from a news story.

The material in the quote marks ("") was copied from the story at the link I provided.

If the story is a lie, please take it up with TIME magazine.

#45 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2005, 04:58 PM:

Don't worry, Stefan. That "Diana" can't read shouldn't surprise anyone who looks at her writing. Or should that be "writing"?

Hmm...never posted before, fake email address, dumbass comment incoherently phrased. A difficulty of nomenclature: is 'troll' or 'internet fucktard' the correct term?

#46 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2005, 06:39 PM:

a left f'n liar.

Hey, at least she thoughtfully started the disemvowelling process all by her little own self...

#47 ::: Ada Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 04:16 PM:

Last year the Army Material Command launched a series of experiments to determine the effect of covering Humvees with magnetized ribbons. They discovered that a large number of magnets would create a force field strong enough to repel small arms fire.

If anyone wants to really help the troops in Iraq, consider recycling your magnets with Magnets for Armor - http://www.magnetsforarmor.org

The magnetized ribbons may help to compensate for shortages of a critical high-tensile steel and ballistic glass for windshields and door windows.

Refrigerator magnets and others are useful too!
Send them to us:
Magnets for Armor
PO Box 122
Frostburg, MD, 21532

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.