April 12, 2008

As Tax Day Approaches, Iraq's Cost by the Numbers

A little perspective: suppose you owe $5,000 in income taxes on your 1040. The Iraq war will use your contribution in 1 second. Like a drop of water hitting a red-hot skillet: pffsssst! Gone. Here's the interesting part: it did no good whatsoever. The $5,000 you just paid in will do absolutely no good. Indeed, it is a down payment on future calamity, as Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz tells us in predicting the total cost of the Iraq war will be $3 trillion. Your $5,000 ante simply maintains soldiers in the field, who will be shot, blinded, blown up, traumatically amputated, massively burned, and driven insane. Those soldiers will then bring all their problems home to a country which is unequipped to handle them.

I've been writing this post now for about 180 seconds. During that time the United States spent $900,000. Half of our urban high schoolers no longer graduate from public high school, so the next question is tricky for them maybe: how long till we get to $1 million? That's right, we're there. It took 20 more seconds. We're now past $1 million, and still spending. Actually, I don't know anyone who owes $1 million in taxes personally, so a lot of us around here must be pitching in.

Well, actually we're not paying for it. We just provide the money used to pay interest on the loans used to pay for it. To finance the Iraq war, BushCo borrows the money from foreign sources. We can't actually afford to pay for the war. The Chinese, the Japanese, the British, the Gulf States, they're the ones lending us the money to pay for the war. Let's figure out how much we spend a minute so we can keep up with the cost of this blog post. 60 x $5,000 = ? $300,000 per minute. $18 million per hour. $432 million per day. $3 billion per week. $12 billion per month. $144 billion per year. Here's the other thing: the Iraq war keeps getting more expensive as we go. I suppose that's because we've worn everything out over there, and keep hiring more and more mercenaries and contractors to replace fully-depreciated soldiers, and the guns-for-higher cost a lot more than the patriotic grunts sold a bill of goods by their government. The guys at Blackwater aren't going to put their asses on the line in exchange for George W. Bush's tear-stained mumbles of gratitude.

Besides, we must have plenty of money if we can afford to spend $432 million per day on just one war. Right? No, not really. We're over $9 trillion in debt and the economy is in recession. We're becoming like everybody's drunk brother-in-law who keeps borrowing money from relatives till they pretend not to be home when he knocks on the door. "Shhhh! It's the United States at the door! Act like we're not here!"

It's going to be hard to get around in the USA anymore since all the airlines are now collapsing. They can't afford to buy jet fuel. ATA went belly up because they couldn't afford the $25,000 it takes to fly one-way from San Francisco to Honolulu. The Iraq war apparently didn't do much to control the price of oil. People think twice before driving anywhere now. Consumer confidence is in the toilet. Housing prices are slumping, depriving the US of A of its regular adrenaline fix of re-fi and line o' credit moolah to keep Target and Best Buy humming. No dough, no go.

So this is what it looks like when you put a career screw-up, a guy who took every business placed at his mercy and ran it into the ground, in charge of the United States of America. He couldn't handle relatively simple businesses, so we thought, in our collective wisdom, we would put him in charge of the most complicated economic-social organism on Earth and see how that would work. Surprised? Why? It should confirm your sense of the natural order of things. He can't prioritize; he can't adapt to changing circumstances; he can't think creatively to find another way out. He resorts always to one principle: if he said he was going to do something, he'll keep doing it even when it proves to be the wrong thing. That is his one value: to remain obstinately dedicated to the error of his ways.

Took 30 minutes here. $9 million down the tube in Baghdad. We'll soon be following it down the chute.

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