Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Not that this information differs in its general contours from the information in scores of similar reports I have read over the past three decades. In the field of military and foreign-policy-related contracting, only the criminals’ identities change (although some do persist); the crimes remain the same. The general rule in this area of government action is: no misfeasance or malfeasance goes unrewarded.
Please do not take my word for these things; read the report for yourself. It’s available online. Because it was prepared by the subcommittee staff, you won’t have to worry about the kinds of biases that unfriendly commentators such as I might bring to the matter. The situation is bad enough even when described in the usual bland language beloved by all government flunkies.
Here are the first three items of the summary:
Wasteful Spending on Defense Department Contracts Nears $1 Billion. According to federal auditors, approximately $950 million in questioned and unsupported costs has been submitted by Defense Department contractors for work in Afghanistan. This represents 16% of the total contract dollars examined.
Afghanistan Contract Spending Exceeds $23 Billion. According the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), the United States has spent more than $23 billion on contracts performed in Afghanistan since 2002.
Number of Defense Department Contractors in Afghanistan May Reach 160,000. There are currently 104,000 Defense Department contractors currently [sic] working in Afghanistan. The increase in troops may require an additional 56,000 Defense Department contractors, bringing the total number of Defense contractors in Afghanistan to 160,000.
The 104,000 military contract workers in Afghanistan as of September 30, 2009, compares to approximately 64,000 uniformed U.S. military personnel there at that time. Thus, the contract workers made up 62 percent of the total force. With the number of uniformed personnel scheduled to increase by 30,000 during the next six months, and assuming that the contract workforce increases by the projected maximum of 56,000, the contract workers will make up 63 percent of the total U.S. force in mid-2010.
The contractors perform a wide variety of tasks for the military, including feeding the troops, doing their laundry, building and maintaining their housing, taking care of warehousing and other logistical needs, administering contracts, making translations, and providing security. The final two items are especially interesting in that they call our attention to the facts that (1) the American soldiers―men and women from places such as Sioux City, Newark, and Chattanooga―are somewhat at a loss to understand Pashto and other local languages and hence are completely clueless as to what’s going on in the country they’re trying to control; and that (2) the U.S. uniformed personnel, armed to the teeth, feel the need for more than 10,000 armed civilian workers to provide security.
The report proceeds under such headings as “Failure to Apply Lessons Learned from Iraq,” “Poor Coordination of Interagency Efforts,” and “Continual Personnel Turnover.” Its third major section is titled “Waste, Fraud, Abuse, and Mismanagement Mar Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development.” Subheadings include “Inadequate Contracting and Program Management Practices” and “Contractors Overseeing Contractors.” I’m sure you are beginning to get the picture. I don’t want to spoil your reading by giving away all the details. Trust me, however: it’s a pretty juicy story, even when expressed in dry bureaucratese.
Over the years, I have noticed that such orgies of military waste, fraud, and abuse are always attributed in large measure to mistakes, oversights, inadequately trained personnel, poor planning, and so forth—that is, to incompetence, rather than to criminal intent. But ask yourself: if these same “problems” have infected a contracting system for almost seventy years, can they possibly be honest mistakes? These attributes of government contracts are hardly secrets. They have been spelled out in countless official reports and analyzed by hundreds of academic experts and others. Why haven’t the problems been fixed?
The answer is all too obvious: one man’s waste, fraud, and abuse and another man’s road to riches. The military contracting system works in this seemingly atrocious way precisely because that’s how the powers that be want it to operate. When the dust settles, hundreds of billions of dollars will have been relocated from the taxpayers’ pockets to those of the officially contracted pirates who habitually infest these waters, persons associated with firms such as KBR, Fluor, DynCorp, and Xe. Of course, a portion of the loot returns in various forms to the members of Congress and the executive-branch officials who authorize and purport to oversee the whole predatory apparatus.
Mr. O’Hara is a rare legal specimen, doubtless the only person you will ever meet convicted (in 1997) of the felonious crime “not voting from his principal address”. Having two addresses in the same voting district – one his, one his girlfriend’s – left him vulnerable to the charge of “filing a false registration” and “illegal voting”. While in the past all such cases in New York State have been bought into civil, not criminal, court and all have found for the defendant, such was not the case for Mr. O’Hara, who upon conviction not only faced jail time but also had his license to practice law revoked.
Why the special treatment for John Kennedy O’Hara?
It seems Mr. O’Hara, a life-long political junkie, had a foolish habit of running for office without first securing the pre-approval of his district’s Democratic political machine. Plus he was – and still is – an ardent “reformer”, openly expressing his idea on how to fix Brooklyn’s notoriously corrupt municipal, in his words “blow it up, burn it to the ground. Real reform means the system as it stands has to be annihilated”. (2)
He earned for himself a lifetime of hatred in local political circles, as he managed to get himself onto the ballot year after year despite New York State election laws specifically designed to prevent it. In the meat grinder that is New York City politics, Mr. O’Hara was bound to morph into a target: the citizen who became a little too civic-minded – and he did.
Now I grant, John O’Hara falls into the category of lunatic, as who in God’s name would wish to associate with the likes of Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes & Pals, the vile denizens of Brooklyn political upper crust? Is there something wrong with Mr. O’Hara?
In his defense, while my Mom always imparted the wisdom of “show me your friends, show me yourself”, John O’Hara is most certainly not considered a friend in the type of circles Brooklyn’s powerful tend to muck about with, so that is a plus for him.
In addition, Mr. O’Hara freely admits his attraction to hanging about in the vicinity of such bottom feeders is a mental disease: “they haven’t found the medication for a guy like me” he relates, and I can doubtless second that motion, but here he is. And here we are.
As the State of New York Committee on Character and Fitness noted, “Mr. O’Hara, accurately it appears, claims the machine went gunning for him.” (3) Mr. O’Hara aroused such enmity from the machine as to have sent Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes onto a now 12 year long extra-legal jihad against him (battling through three trials and nine appeals) at a cost to the New York taxpayers of millions.
Upon review of the facts that committee unanimously agreed to fully reinstate Mr. O’Hara – still a convicted felon – as a practicing attorney and in addition, in a move as rare as a successful Mets baseball season, proclaimed Mr. O’Hara shouldn’t have been prosecuted in the first place.
Mr. O’Hara falls into that category of victim that may accurately be branded with the tag “there but for the grace of God go I”. If Mr. O’Hara can be prosecuted under such an idiotic, vague law then we all may be. He is far more than a victim – he’s a symbol, the embodiment of a worthy cause, that of an ordinary everyday man unfairly targeted by the rich and powerful for the crime of rocking a political boat.
When I queried him on my stated policy that entire classes of voters (government employees) should be forbidden to vote, he responded in a very libertarian manner that made me re-think my position, that we “shouldn’t excluded entire classes of people like that”. Mr. O’Hara seems to actually think about matters such as these, and maybe we should encourage such people to try for political office.
He makes a very convincing argument to a nihilist such as myself that politics is “too important for everyone to just walk away” and that to gain office is “the most important profession there is”. There is a good deal of truth in what he says and, more importantly, I would far prefer to live under a New York City with a John O’Hara as mayor than a Michael Bloomberg.
A spokesman for DA Hynes’s office replied to all the recent developments (such as an entire body of state lawyers going over to Mr. O’Hara’s side) with a curt reminder that Mr. O’Hara is still “a felon”. (4) While that is certainly correct it begs the question: justly so? An entire organization of Mr. Hynes’s peers has answered in the negative.
On October 6th, the Appellate Division of New York State’s Supreme Court directed the Clerk of the Court “to restore the name of John Kennedy O’Hara to the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law.” (5) An excellent beginning, yet there is one final step to take so justice may be done; and with the federal Supreme Court refusing to hear an appeal it is a step that only New York Governor Paterson can perform, spurred on by readers such as you.
I ask a small favor from you, reader, to please click that link and sign the petition on Mr. O’Hara’s behalf. If Mr. O’Hara can be tried and convicted under such an arcane, vaguely written law, we all can be. It is high time for the governor to pardon Mr. O’Hara, to remove the stain of this undeserved felony conviction, to see that finally, twelve long years after the fact, John Kennedy O’Hara’s stubborn fight for justice finally bears fruit – for all of us.
(1) Wolfe, Thomas, The Bonfire of the Vanities, (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1987) p.360
(2) Harper’s Magazine, Meet The New Boss: Man Versus Machine Politics in Brooklyn, By Christopher Ketcham December 2004
(3) Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division – 2nd Department, Committee on Character and Fitness: In the Matter of John Kennedy O’Hara, May, 21, 2009: p.2
(4) The Brooklyn Paper, Finally! O’Hara Beats Hynes! By Will Yakowicz, October 16, 2009
(5) Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department: In the Matter of John Kennedy O’Hara, a disbarred attorney, October 6, 2009: p.2
C.J. Maloney lives and works in New York City. His first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.
Okay, maybe I am somewhat pessimistic. My wife, who is confident that she knows more about me than I know about myself, says so, and I am certainly not going to take issue with someone who possesses superior knowledge. But my reputation as a pessimist stems not from the kind of knowledge that my wife possesses in special measure, but from my writings over the years about the growth of government and related matters.
In this context, I have been rather puzzled by many of the accusations of pessimism, because whereas I have always tried to rest my expectations on my knowledge of what happened in the past and my understanding of why those events occurred, those who dismiss or depreciate my prognostications seem to me to be lapsing into wishful thinking – groundless optimism, if you will.
When my book Crisis and Leviathan was published in 1987, several reviewers took issue with it on the grounds that my forecast – which occupies less than one page at the end of the book – was unduly pessimistic, especially in view of the great transformation that some of them imagined had been wrought by the “Reagan Revolution.” What provoked this bizarre focus on three paragraphs in a book of 372 pages? After disavowing any pretense of knowing the future, I wrote that if human society survives (which is always iffy, given the combination of technological power and moral infirmity), we do know one thing:
We know that other great crises will come. Whether they will be occasioned by foreign wars, economic collapse, or rampant terrorism, no one can predict with assurance. Yet in one form of another, great crises will surely come again, as they have from time to time throughout all human history. When they do, governments almost certainly will gain new powers over economic and social affairs. Everything I have argued and documented in the preceding chapters points toward this conclusion.
For years afterward, I would tell those skeptical of my thesis – people who were convinced that Big Government was gradually being diminished – that the gains in freedom (which, even at the time, I considered to be more than offset by contemporaneous losses) would be swept away overnight at the onset of the next great crisis. When 9/11 occurred, I had occasion to put my views to the test. Was I wrong then? When the current recession came to a head in the financial debacle of September and October 2008, I had another occasion to put my views to the test. Was I wrong then?
I’m not gloating. It’s possible that my views are altogether cockamamey and that the huge spurts of government growth after 9/11 and again after the financial debacle have occurred for reasons that simply appear to validate my views. I don’t think so, however: too many of the details fit my scheme. But consider again the matter I raised at the beginning of this essay: was I right (or apparently right) about these events only because these are bad developments, and such developments always seem to confirm the expectations of ex ante pessimists?
In my years as a basketball player, we used to say after a bad shot fell through the hoop that it’s better to be lucky than good. Have my well-confirmed expectations about the post-crisis events of the past decade been simply lucky, rather than soundly based?
In my work on the growth of government over the past three decades, I have always rested my conclusions on a combination of facts and theory. I may be wrong about the facts, although those who have disputed my views have not so much claimed that I got the facts wrong as that I misinterpreted them or that I committed sins of omission. I may also be wrong about the theory, but my theoretical views have seemingly proved their mettle in a variety of applications, in their details and their broad contours, and in one historical episode after another in the modern (post-Progressive) ideological era. In sum, I don’t believe that my views on the evolution of the U.S. politico-economic order ever did, or now do, simply express my psychological tendency toward pessimism.
So, it has always irritated me when my arguments were dismissed or depreciated on the grounds that “Higgs is just a pessimist.” Such a reaction strikes me as a sort of ad hominem fallacy. You might as well say that Higgs is wrong about the growth of government because he’s a jackass (a trait I am neither confirming nor denying).
This past week, however, we have seen President Barack Obama awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and seen him use the occasion to present the same-old-same-old pseudo-justifications for enlarging the foolish war in Afghanistan and for perpetuating global U.S. hegemony. As if that shameful travesty were not more than enough insult added to our injuries, we have seen Ben Bernanke named Time magazine’s person of the year, in the wake of the Fed’s having placed the U.S. economy in the kind of jeopardy that it has not suffered since World War II. If you wanted to invent news items to illustrate the black absurdity of our political and ideological situation, you could not have come up with nastier ones.
These sorts of events rarely come as a surprise to me, however: they fit nicely into the analytical narratives I’ve been writing for decades about where the country is heading and why. But, as always, I may be wrong. So, to keep up your spirits, I recommend that you ask some well-established experts what they think. Chances are that they will reassure you. After all, as everybody knows, Higgs is just a pessimist.
Now, it seems that our leaders are willing to work clandestinely with the sellers of illegal narcotics even though publicly we label them enemies of humanity. Citing an article containing a first hand account published in Harper’s Magazine the website OpEdNews.com alleges that our military is intimately involved in supporting the drug trade in Afghanistan. Author Glen Ford writes about cooperation between certain drug dealers and our troops saying that an “alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban.”
Hat tip to Kenny Rodgers
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
Jane S. Shaw
But the Beitos’ book changed my views enormously—softened them, one might say. The Beitos do a terrific job of making this larger-than-life figure believable and placing him in the context of mid-century Mississippi. Yes, he was heroic! While they are objective in their analysis, they convey an image of Howard as a restless individual who refused to be confined by racism in the South or legalistic restraint in the North. He was, the Beitos write, “fearless in waging war against inequality and disenfranchisement, but he was not a man to tilt at windmills.”
Howard, a physician, journalist (in his early days in California), and businessman, did indeed have a major role in founding the civil rights movement in the Mississippi Delta. Historians should not ignore him. Thanks to the Beitos' solid research, they do not have to anymore.
David T. Beito
The producer and writer was Norman Corwin (an ardent New Dealer who is still going strong at age 99). It featured an all-star cast including Orson Welles, James Stewart, Walter Brennan, and Edward G. Robinson, and closed with a speech by Roosevelt.
Broadcast only a week after Pearl Harbor, it still holds the ratings record for any dramatic show. About half the American population tuned in. The actors, especially Stewart and Welles, give a hyper exuberant commentatory on each amendment.
Despite Corwin’s leftist political beliefs, the content (with a few exceptions) does not reveal a pro-New Deal slant. The section on the second amendment (32.35 minutes into the program) seems downright libertarian. It interprets the amendment as not only protecting gun ownership by individuals but also their right to use these weapons to overthrow an oppressive government.
Jonathan J. Bean
I have been told–but not verified–that Coolidge was the last president to write his own speeches. After reading Coolidge’s writings, published while he was president, I am not surprised in the least. “Silent Cal” could be a man of few words but when he had something to say, he did it like a master; and when delivering speeches, he knew that the audience was as important as the speaker. After all, the Ku Klux Klan was at high tide and he refused their offer to speak and chose instead group forums that represented the very minorities attacked by the Klan!
Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader includes two documents by Coolidge. I note that his record was mixed on race (and other issues) from a classical liberal perspective. Most significantly, he signed the immigration restriction act of 1924 which slammed the door shut on virtually all immigration from outside the Western hemisphere.
Nevertheless, he invoked the Constitution and classical liberal principles to defend blacks and white ethnics (Catholics, Jews) under assault by the KKK. While Coolidge was not a “perfect” president, one can appreciate him all the more because he did not have such an enlarged view of the presidency or of himself. Après Coolidge, presidential humility went out the window, with some presidents more egotistical than others.
Below readers will find some of my commentary followed by an excerpt from one of the documents in Race and Liberty in America (footnotes omitted):
“Coolidge Denounces White Racism” (1924)
Historians often compare “Silent Cal” Coolidge (1872–1933) unfavorably with the activist presidents of the Progressive Era. A survey of academic historians conducted in 1983 found that they rated Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as “near great,” with Coolidge among the “ten worst.” The Ku Klux Klan was the hot civil rights issue of the 1924 election: it was a national organization directing its hatred not only at blacks, but especially at Catholics and others deemed less than “100% American.” Historians fault Coolidge for not denouncing the KKK by name during the campaign. They fail to note that the Democratic candidate—segregationist John W. Davis—called upon Coolidge to speak when the president’s son was dying from an infection—a two-month ordeal that devastated Coolidge. (Consider the irony: Davis is best known for defending segregation in the Brown v. Board case). Soon after his son’s death, Coolidge spoke eloquently of religious and racial toleration before a parade of one hundred thousand Catholics honoring the Holy Name Society. Klan leaders grumbled when the president refused to show up for their parade.
Also compare Coolidge’s strong denunciation of lynching with that of “progressive” presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft. In a 1906 address, Roosevelt stated “the greatest existing cause of lynching is the perpetration, especially by black men, of the hideous crime of rape—the most abominable in all the category of crimes—even worse than murder.” In a 1909 message, Taft blamed lynching on “delays in trials, judgments, and the executions thereof by our courts.” By contrast, Coolidge made no excuses and urged Congress to punish the “hideous crime of lynching.”
In the following document, President Calvin Coolidge responds to a man who desired a lily-white government. The Chicago Defender, a leading black newspaper, praised Coolidge’s rebuke with the front-page headline, “Cal Coolidge Tells Kluxer When to Stop.” Coolidge reprinted this letter in a collection of his presidential addresses.
My dear Sir:
Your letter is received, accompanied by a newspaper clipping which discusses the possibility that a colored man may be the Republican nominee for Congress from one of the New York districts. Referring to this newspaper statement, you say:
“It is of some concern whether a Negro is allowed to run for Congress anywhere, at any time, in any party, in this, a white man’s country. Repeated ignoring of the growing race problem does not excuse us for allowing encroachments. Temporizing with the Negro whether he will or will not vote either a Democratic or a Republican ticket, as evidenced by the recent turnover in Oklahoma, is contemptible.”
Leaving out of consideration the manifest impropriety of the President intruding himself in a local contest for nomination, I was amazed to receive such a letter. During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it. They took their places wherever assigned in defense of the nation of which they are just as truly citizens as are any others. The suggestion of denying any measure of their full political rights to such a great group of our population as the colored people is one which, however it might be received in some other quarters, could not possibly be permitted by one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color, I have taken my oath to support that Constitution. It is the source of your rights and my rights. I propose to regard it, and administer it, as the source of the rights of all the people, whatever their belief or race. A colored man is precisely as much entitled to submit his candidacy in a party primary, as is any other citizen. The decision must be made by the constituents to whom he offers himself, and by nobody else. . . .
Although my one personal encounter with Samuelson was brief and not altogether pleasant, I was greatly affected by his influence on economics. In the 1960s, when I was being trained in economics, he was generally regarded as the greatest living economist, and his way of doing economics was generally regarded as virtually defining how to carry out economic analysis scientifically.
Having suffered through this Samuelsonian training, I immediately began to move away from it once I became an economist. In fact, I increasingly grew to believe that the worst aspects of modern economics owe more to Samuelson than to any other single economist. Eventually I became convinced that the modern mainstream’s so-called scientific economics is not truly scientific at all, but a species of scientism – the misapplication of methods developed for the study of material reality to the study of human choice and cooperation. Having had my say about Samuelson’s baneful influence in this regard (here and here), I need say nothing more upon his passing.
Except that however misguided I believe he was in his approach to economics, he was a man of enormous intellect and tremendous Except that however misguided I believe he was in his approach to economics, he was a man of enormous intellect and tremendous influence. I only wish that his great talents had been aimed in a different direction.
And Henry Porter has something to say.
Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.
Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.
The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.
When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.
The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.
The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker’s pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.
The report notes that the data analyzed do not include employees of the White House, Congress, the Postal Service, and the intelligence agencies or uniformed members of the armed forces. Adding these employees to the analysis probably would not alter the general outlines of the study’s conclusions.
This development would be remarkable at any time, but it seems even more remarkable when it coincides with a more-than-doubling of the unemployment rate, a 4 percent decline in real GDP, and the evaporation of trillions of dollars of private wealth in the markets for corporate shares, other financial securities, and real estate.
This development also highlights the division of interests at the heart of classical liberal class analysis: the division between those who gain their income from honest production and trade (which Franz Oppenheimer called the “economic means”) and those who gain their income by plundering the producers (which he called the “political means”). Plutocrats are no longer only the Daddy Warbucks types, wearing diamond stickpins and puffing on oversized cigars (although Hank Paulson clearly illustrates that such types have not disappeared). Now they are also the blank-faced bureaucrats, dozing over their desks in nondescript office buildings.
Even Franklin D. Roosevelt made a better showing in this regard, at least at the start of his presidency. Having campaigned against Herbert Hoover’s excessive enlargement of the bureaucracy and his large budget deficits, Roosevelt pushed through the Economy Act of 1933. This statute provided for substantial cuts in federal spending and veterans’ benefits and gave the president authority to eliminate some federal agencies to achieve greater government economy. Subsequent congressional and executive actions overturned most of the act’s provisions, but at least in this regard, Roosevelt’s heart was initially in the right place.
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for Barack Obama’s heart. From his campaign, to the massive “stimulus” bill enacted in February, to the obscene hypertrophy of the federal bureaucrats’ pay, perks, and power during the past two years, we see all too plainly that while those of us who use the economic means to gain our living are struggling, those who use the political means are enjoying tremendous success in their plunder of the productive class, and that this conjunction has been anything but accidental. Members of the plundering class wanted it, and they have brought it about, owing to the threats of violence that serve as the basis for all of their actions under the state’s banners.
Thus, the current recession cum financial debacle certainly has been a severe misfortune for you and me, but for the federal bureaucracy, it has been a godsend – complete, we might note, with a messiah to lead the way.
Amy H. Sturgis
David T. Beito
A little birdie told me that qualified applicants will have an especially good chance this year.
For more information, see here.
David T. Beito
“Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars.....One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries — including Norway — in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.”
“Still, we are at war and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict.
[I]ntellectual property does not increase innovation and creation. Extending IP rights may modestly boost the incentive for innovation, but this positive effect is wiped away by the negative effect of creating monopolies. There is simply no evidence that strengthening patent regimes increases innovation or economic productivity. In fact, some evidence shows that increased protection even decreases innovation. The main finding is that making it easier to get patents increases … patenting!
President Obama said Tuesday night it would cost $30 billion this fiscal year — or about $1 million per soldier — to send 30,000 additional troops there. That’s a low estimate, budget experts say, but let’s run with it for the moment. An extra $30 billion in Afghanistan means that in 2010 alone, US military spending in Afghanistan will equal nearly half of total spending on the war since 2001, according to Travis Sharp, military policy analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington. The troop increase will cost $2.5 billion per month, $82 million per day, $3.4 million per hour, $57,000 per minute, and $951 per second. It’s a direct tax on Americans: about $195 for each taxpayer next year. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Full article below the jump. Note: the organization Veterans for Common Sense expands on the continuing cost of disability payments and healthcare for veterans wounded, injured, or ill due to their military deployment to the Afghan War. VCS states, "as of June 2009, VA treated 480,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran patients...Exacerbating the situation is the fact that about 40 percent of our forces have deployed twice or more to war, further increasing the risk of depression, PTSD, and suicide. Yet both VA and the military lack the urgently needed mental healthcare providers to provide exams and treatment for our service members and veterans." Click on [Read the rest...] to continue reading CSM article.
“The total cost of [the escalation in] Afghanistan will be at least twice the cost and perhaps three times the cost of the estimate, says Linda Bilmes, a budget and public-finance expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. When she counts replacement of worn-out military equipment, disability payments to soldiers, Veterans Administration medical care, and the interest charges to finance the war, the tab doubles. When she adds indirect costs to the economy — say, the lost wages of a parent who quits his job to care for a son wounded in combat — it triples.
“We know that those are a decades-long costs,” says professor Bilmes. “The next question is: How do we budget for it? And how do we pay for it?”
A war tax, war bonds, and budget cuts have all been proposed, although it looks as though the administration will just keep on borrowing. In whatever form it comes, the real costs for the individual taxpayer could peak anywhere from $400 to $600 annually for the next couple of years and then begin to tail off — assuming all goes well in Afghanistan.
For more commentary, visit www.wendymcelroy.com.
David T. Beito
“All the Asiatic nations are now faced with the urgent necessity of adjusting themselves to the present age. Japan should be their natural leader in that process, and their protector during the transition stage, much as the United States assumed the leadership of the American continent many years ago, and by means of the Monroe Doctrine, preserved the Latin American nations from European interference. The future policy of Japan towards Asiatic countries should be similar to that of the United States towards their neighbors on the American continent.”
Hat tip, William Stepp.