Friday, April 11, 2008

Safe at any cost! Safe at $5000 a second?

The current statistic for the Iraq war cost is that American taxpayers are paying $5,000 dollars a second to fight this war. President Bush argues that the cost is well worth the security that it affords the United States. I can't see it. If we spent $5000 a second here at home to increase security we could secure all the shipping ports, inspect all the shipping containers, put the best screening technology that money can buy in every single airport in the country, put antimissile technology on all the airliners, build the best darn wall money can buy across the southern border and the list goes on and on.

I don't see where I am safer with a Hussein-less Iraq. If we drive Al-queda out of Iraq won't they just setup base somewhere else? Why isn't oil revenue from Iraq financing this fight at this point? Why are we using our money to rebuild? We claim (the administration claims) that the sorry state of Iraqi infrastructure is the result of 35 years of baathist/dictatorial rule. Isn't the U.S. at least partially responsible for the deplorable conditions in Iraq?

The Vice President says that it doesn't matter what the people desire of their government and I for one am appalled at that cavalier attitude toward American democracy. The Presidential spokesperson says that the people had their say in the 2000 and 2004 elections and after that we leave it in the hands of the elected officials. I didn't realize that our system was supposed to work that way.

I don't feel safer. I think the financial cost (not to mention the human cost) incurred by our Iraq occupation far exceeds the illusion of safety that this administration tries to tout. We should look after ourselves and use that money domestically. January 20th, 2009 cannot come soon enough for me. Anybody in the oval office has to be better than the current occupant.


At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound awfully rediculous, claiming we could do all the things you say with less than 160 billion dollars (which is about what 5000 per second works out to). That may seem like an insane amount of money compared to your own checkbook. But when compared to the 400 billion dollars we just INCREASED our welfare spending on, it doesn't look like so much.

Most people cannot understand big numbers like "$5000 per second" so its easy to prey on their emotions with them. But it is dishonest and beneath you, really.

At 5:41 AM, Blogger PurplePol said...

I don't think I claim that it can all be done for 160 billion dollars. I think I argue that the money would be better spent on domestic security and could make a significant improvement in our safety that far outweighs the benefits we are collecting in Iraq.

And anyway you look at it, it's a lot of money. I think the current statistic is that the war has cost us over 500 billion so far so we're past our welfare spending increase and comparing 160 billion to 400 billion and saying it's not alot is pretty short-sighted. It's over 30% of the welfare increase. It must be nice to discount those kind of numbers to help justify the cost of the war.

A recent analysis shows that 15 billion in reconstruction money cannot be accounted for. What could that kind of money do for our national safety? And that's just the money they can't find anymore. It boggles my mind how the war has been so poorly managed.

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you don't think we should have even gone in to Iraq in the first place. That's fair, you're entitled to your opinion. And if that's the way you feel, it's certain that you'd also feel the money could be better wasted elsewhere.

But let's not delude ourselves. There are a couple of problems with your argument. The national security problems you mention cannot be solved simply by throwing more money at them. Money is not, and has never been, the issue. It is the lack of the political and social will to do what is necessary to secure our borders and protect our ports that is the real problem.

Its the same with Iraq. No one wants to be the one to get right down to it and admit that the Nazi's had it right when they occupied Europe with an iron fist. That is the way to pacify your enemies and secure peace and tranquility. You have to establish and maintain order before you can set up a government and establish a free society.

And no one wants to admit that the Iragis are not ready for Western-style democracy and freedom. It took generations for these values to be ingrained into our way of life, and it will take as long (maybe longer) for them, as well. It will be much harder in today's jet-set/internet world of instant communication and world-wide travel and cultural exchanges. No wonder radical Islamic forces want to destroy us; we ARE destroying their way of life.

But I digress. The other problem I have with your argument is that you aren't really talking about spending the money in what you consider better ways. You are talking about WASTING it in what you consider better ways. Almost nothing the government spends money on, outside of the military and the space program, ever has any positive return or outcome. Welfare is a waste because it breeds dependency and squashes the drive for self-reliance. Social Security is a waste because people almost ALWAYS get better returns on their own private retirement investments than anything Social Security will ever provide them. Medicare and Medicaid promote fraud and abuse more than they do health care for the elderly and disadvantaged. FEMA? Don't even start with that nonsense.

You want to talk big numbers? OK, the last Federal budget (Social Security and Welfare NOT included) ran about 2.7 trillion dollars. That's over $85,000 per second. And I don't believe very much of that spending, outside the military and the pittance we spend on the space program, will ever result in anything useful.

True, Bush has blown it in Iraq. But not because he lied to get us in there in the first place, or because it didn't need to be done. He blew it by not putting 500,000 troops on the ground after toppling Saddam, and truly pacifying that country. Then, and only then, could any real progress have been made in establishing an Iraqi government. He forgot the lessons of WWII and post-war Germany and Japan. Both of those countries are thriving examples of capitalism and democracy today, but it is because the Allies stomped on them hard after the war, and set up their new governments, writing their new constitutions for them along the way.

But people lack the will to do that today, mainly because people in our generation did not have to sacrifice and endure the way our parents did. If it can't be resolved before the 30-minute sitcom is over, it is taking too long.

At 5:45 AM, Blogger PurplePol said...

We preemptively attached a country that posed no "immediate" threat to the USA. We captured and allowed that country's leader to be executed. Yes he was evil but there are lots of evil dictators in the world that we choose to ignore. The only reason we didn't ignore this one is that there's oil to be had in IRAQ and the Bush Administration got it in their heads that they could transform the Middle East with a little western democracy.

I fully agree with the statements about waste. I'd have to drag out the stats but I'm sure that we only get about 1 billion dollars worth of benefit from 10 billion dollars. I'd still rather have the efforts of the government be directed toward securing us domestically than it's current attempts to increase our safety a half a world away.

At 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you'd rather fight them here than fight them there. That's just what Neville Chamberlain would have said, I'm sure.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger PurplePol said...

I'd rather tighten our borders and protect our skies and shipping then continue to prop up a country that is not interested in the version of democracy that we are cramming down their throats. If that means fight them here then I guess that's what I'd rather do.

It's not that I don't want IRAQ to succeed as a democracy. It's just that I have severe doubts that it will (at least on our terms) and I feel that the money being dumped into the sand over there would be better utilized to prop up our own infrastructure (including shipping, airline travel, education, poverty, hunger, and housing).


Post a Comment

<< Home