Tinsel Wing

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Iraq: the opportunity cost, and the opportunity to contribute


Sometimes I'll blog because I have something to say, or something overlooked to display. Sometimes just to provide myself with a handy attic I can search for information that was well known to the blogosphere at the time.

"Balancing Act", at Firedoglake today, had two chunks of information worth keeping at my fingertips. First, there's Murtha's list, at first startling and then sobering, of all the neglected Homeland Security that various tiny pieces of what we spend on the Iraq war could buy. For example, five years after 9/11, Congress still hasn't been able to scrape up the dough to give all the country's first responders compatible comm systems. The price? $350 million dollars. AKA 1.2 days of the war.

Second, it tells you two routes by which you can send reading matter to the troops. (When you do, consider packing a few pairs of absorbent socks.) Progressive political material is good; sci fi and mysteries and thrillers are golden. Few stand in greater need of escape literature.

When perusing Murtha's list, bear in mind that this time three years ago, a couple months after the Mission was Accomplished, the monthly tab for Iraq was 2 billion. Now it's eight billion. It's not hard to speculate on the reasons for the quadrupling. We now have to figure in equipment replacement costs, which were a freebie back then when we were working through our initial supplies. We are now paying a huge army of mercenaries, in roughly one to one ratio with our GIs, and each privateer costs several times what a regular Government Issue does.

Finally, for three long years the Republican Congress has heroically refused to peek under the hood of any sweetheart contracts - except when, like the now jumpsuited Representative Duke Cunningham, it was to extract the lobbyist kickbacks nestled under the carburetor. Which guarantees that since George's triumphal strut down the deck of the Abraham Lincoln, graft and war profiteering have surely risen by some large multiple. (Hand out fliers to the foxes announcing that the henhouse doors are always open, and a Great Fox Flock will be attracted to the neighborhood.)

All clear enough. But it would be lovely to get a handle on how much each of these factors has contributed to the flood of simoleons chasing each other daily down the sewer of Cheney's Folly.

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