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08/25/2003 Archived Entry: "The continuing cost of war"
What is the war in Iraq costing the American public? In the Christian Science Monitor, David R. Francis offers a tally. He starts with the White House's estimate of a $475 billion fiscal deficit for 2004, then comments "that included no money for Iraq." What are the additional costs of the war? "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told the Senate the 'burn rate' runs about $3.9 billion a month. Afghanistan, together with Noble Eagle, the protective overflights of military jets in the US, costs another $1.1 billion a month." In other words, $5 billion a month. (This assumes that the role in Afghanistan does *not* expand as the New York Times indicates it will in an article entitled U.S. Said to Plan Bigger Afghan Role, Stepping Up Aid." But that$ 5 billion estimate includes no money for reconstruction in Iraq -- such as restoring "electricity (a $13 billion cost, by one estimate) and water ($16 billion)....Last year, William Nordhaus, a Yale University economist, calculated that under certain conditions, a 'protracted and unfavorable' war and its aftermath could cost as much as $1.9 trillion." The Bush administration had hoped to offset costs by pumping a glut of oil but the sabotage of pipelines (among other factors) has made this...well, a pipe-dream. Which raises another cost of war -- one of the many unintended consequences borne by the average working Joe and Jane -- the rise in the price of gas, which is, on a nationwide average, 4 cents a gallon more expensive than two weeks ago. Even the foregoing estimates do not include the more subtle costs such as the dislocation of National Reserve Guards whose jobs must be held open by businesses. In some cases, when the Guard in question is a small business owner, the business itself goes under. I read one such account of a detective who no longer has an agency because he could not sustain the operation from a distance...but, alas, I did not bookmark the URL.
Charley Reese hits another homerun with his article entitled "Ashcroft's Lack Of Credibility" that discusses Ashcroft's current stomp through the States to legitimize the Patriot Act in the wake of 134 cities officially denouncing it and the ACLU launching a legal challege. I have become a regular reader of Reese. He semi-fills the vacuum left by Christopher Hitchens, whom I avidly read, until he backed the invasion of Iraq. :-(
My favorite email of the day comes from my unofficial co-blogger, Gordon P., who writes regarding an open letter from OSI to SCO. (For background on the dispute, see an earlier blog entry.) Returning to Gordon, "The LinuxWorld website contains the complete text of an open letter posted by Eric S. Raymond, President of the Open Source Initiative, to SCO Group President and Chief Executive Officer Darl McBride. Of particular interest is this link, which claims the following: '...most of the supposedly infringing code was (a) released as open source by SCO/Caldera in 2002, (b) didn't come through IBM or Sequent, (c) isn't present in 90% of all running Linux distributions, and (d) was removed from Linux 2.5 in July 2003 on grounds of being too ugly to live. If this is representative of the quality of SCO's evidence, their case is dead on arrival'." Gordon concludes, "Viva la LINUX!!! Viva la Open Source!!!" Hear, hear!!!
I don't like to rain on parades, especially libertarian ones; anyone who has the energy and enthusiasm to fight for a cause has my respect. BUT I have been receiving notices about a protest that urges people to print their Social Security #s on T-shirts and wear them on Labor Day as a sign of solidarity against tax slavery. The "press release" reads: "On Labor Day, workers should join libertarians to end the social security scam and their socialist slave numbers. Individualists will fight the fraud with T-shirts and Henna tattoos that scornfully announce 'My Socialist Slave Number is...' -followed by the sickening nine-digit pattern. Many people have publicly burned their socialist slave cards, just as draft cards used to be burned. Others will hand out 'Social Insecurity Cards' that mock the scheme." I applaud the hubris but I hope *no one* prints their own SSN on a T-shirt or in a tattoo. In this age of identity theft, that would be equivalent to taking the keys to your house and handing them blindly to a stranger...or, more accurately, a crowd of strangers. Make up a patently phoney one or use a politician's SSN. I don't want libertarians to invite trouble into their lives through recklessness. Rain shower concluded.
Fair warning to readers: as TorCon -- the 61st World SF Convention being held in near-by Toronto -- draws near, my blogs are likely to grow shorter until they disappear altogether for a few days. Then, Brad and I will be back, refreshed, invigorated, with new T-shirts from the vendors, a stack of new novels to read, and a much-welcomed house guest for a few days. Expect Con stories!
Best to all,