Downloadable text files: Afghanistan data, Iraq data.

Data sources: Iraq – 05/2003 through 04/2010, Iraq Index by the Brooking Institute, May 2010 issue; 05/2010, various news reports. Afghanistan – 09/2001 through 11/2008, Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars by Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service; 12/2008 through 11/2009, Troop Levels in Afghanistan Since 2001 by the New York Times; 12/2009 through 04/2010, read from Figure 1.13 of Afghanistan Index by the Brookings Institute, May 2010 issue; 05/2010, various news reports.

Updated to show data through Nov. 2010.


Data sources: The Statistical Abstract of the U.S. 2010 (table 209), 2004-2005 (table 196), 2000 (table 233). Starting at 2006, the “with hunger” category was renamed to “with very low food security”. See the sources for definitions.

Updated (Jan 25, 2011) with 2011 Statistical Abstract data (Table 210) to show 2008 values.

Update (Sept. 17, 2013): A USDA report has the data up to 2012. The elevated insecurity levels first observed in 2008 have remained stable since. In 2012, 14.5% of households were food insecure, and 5.7% had very low food security.

I found George Englebersten’s book Bare Facts and Naked Truths in a used book shop and was attracted to it because of the interesting (if often wrongheaded) quotations it contained. My favorites are:

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use. –Mark Twain

This kind of thing is frightening to me because it gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world … I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that ‘the facts’ existed and were more or less discoverable. -Orwell

We’ve reached a point where, in an orgy of political correctness, everything is true, and nothing is permitted. -Dean Kuipers

Truths are illusions. -Nietzsche
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This post addresses what I consider to be the main argument against regulation of the activity of uttering ideas. I note that that “uttering ideas” – to friends, or to small groups, in a setting that does not require much resources or authority to arrange – is separate from the activity of broadcasting ideas. I argued before that the latter activity – essentially engaging in a competition for the attention of large numbers of people – is always regulated in one way or another by government and is therefore subject (at least on some level) to different considerations and treatment.

The argument against regulating the utterance of ideas is that a such regulation infringes on what Robert Dahl calls a “democratic right”, (or could alternatively, and perhaps better, be called a democratic need). These democratic rights or needs are activities that are essential to democracy (i.e., to political equality).

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