Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Would You Do With $165 billion?

Let your imagination run wild. You've borrowed 165 billion dollars and have no intentions of paying it back. What would you do with all that money?

Today, the US Senate voted (70-26) and approved additional Iraq/Afghanistan war money that the Pentagon says it desperately needs.
(See related New York Times article). How much more money shall we, the tax payers contribute to an endless campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan? If the Senate bill is passed in the House a total of $800 billion just for combat costs will have been spent on these campaigns thus far. With the release of Tuesday's congressional committee report estimating that the total economic impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are to reach $1.6 trillion by 2009, when will this reckless spending end?

With the Nation's schools in dire financial straights, living cost skyrocketing and the creation of millions of Iraqi refugees, thousands dead or maimed when will the spending end? In my home state of New York taxpayers will pay an estimated $47.2 billion for the total Iraq war spending that has been approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided in New York City alone:

16,485,965 Children with Health Care for One Year
8,700,175 People with Health Care for One Year
268,181 Affordable Housing Units

So again I ask, when will the spending end?

I don't know about you but I certainly don't feel any safer spending all this money and neither do the woman in Iraq. Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International published her findings in a Women for Women International
press release.
Zainab Salbi who is Iraqi reported, "The situation for women in Iraq varies from province to province but, overall, the same problems exist:

89% believe that someone in their family will be killed in the next year.
88% of women thought that the separation of people along ethnic or religious lines was a bad thing.
70% of women say their family cannot afford to pay for the necessities of daily life.
76% of respondents said that girls in their family are not allowed to attend school.

One woman who was interviewed commented, “They gave us freedom and they took from us security…but if I have to choose, I will choose safety and security.”"

So again I ask, when will the reckless spending end? I don't feel that it's been a very wise investment especially since the people who are spending it will be long gone in their final resting places when the next generation is struggling to pay back the mountainous debt. So, forget today's approved $165 billion and think about what we could do with the $1.6 trillion. A fraction of that money could provide food and shelter to the 2.5 million refugees of Darfur who live under plastic sheets; purchase new books for city classrooms; and provide the USA homeless with their own housing.

Do I support the men and women of our military? Of course I do. (My father was a medic in the D-Day operation and I have a slew of black and white photos of his European tour. Since learning of his heroic service when I was a wee lad I felt a connection and reverence for anyone in uniform who risked their lives for their country and to help save the lives of others.) However, I do not support the current Iraq, Afghanistan campaigns in the way our tax dollars are being spent. If a business spent monies in the reckless ways that the Congress, Pentagon and the US Military has that business would be out of business faster than you could say '165 billion'.
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