Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: How To Waste $3 Trillion

27 March 2008

How To Waste $3 Trillion

bush-money.jpg

Not too long ago, Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz calculated that the war in Iraq will have cost as much as $3 trillion before it's over. This story was recently brought to my attention again, and I was struck by just how wasteful the spending in Iraq has been:

I ask what discoveries Stiglitz found the most disturbing. He laughs, somewhat mirthlessly. "There were actually so many things - some of it we suspected, but there were a few things I couldn't believe.

" The fact that a contractor working as a security guard gets about $400,000 a year, for example, as opposed to a soldier, who might get about $40,000. That there is a discrepancy we might have guessed - but not its sheer scale, or the fact that, because it is so hard to get insurance for working in Iraq, the government pays the premiums; or the fact that, if these contractors are injured or killed, the government pays both death and injury benefits on top.

Understandably, this has forced a rise in sign-up bonuses (as has the fact that the army is so desperate for recruits that it is signing up convicted felons). "So we create a competition for ourselves. Nobody in their right mind would have done that. The Bush administration did that ... that I couldn't believe. And that's not included in the cost the government talks about."

Forget the money wasted on sole-source contracts that had no completion requirements. That was pocket change compared to the money that we spent on mercenaries and on the extra bonuses we had to pay our own soldiers to keep them from joining their ranks.

And if you really want to get angry, have a look at these figures:

$16bn
The amount the US spends on the monthly running costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - on top of regular defence spending

$138
The amount paid by every US household every month towards the current operating costs of the war

$19.3bn
The amount Halliburton has received in single-source contracts for work in Iraq

$25bn
The annual cost to the US of the rising price of oil, itself a consequence of the war

$3 trillion
A conservative estimate of the true cost - to America alone - of Bush's Iraq adventure. The rest of the world, including Britain, will shoulder about the same amount again

$5bn
Cost of 10 days' fighting in Iraq

$1 trillion
The interest America will have paid by 2017 on the money borrowed to finance the war

3%
The average drop in income of 13 African countries - a direct result of the rise in oil prices. This drop has more than offset the recent increase in foreign aid to Africa

***

Stiglitz and economist Linda Bilmes outline the way they came up with the $3 trillion figure
here.

(cross posted at appletree)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Rex said...

No, no, no, no, Gordo. No cash at all is wasted, not a farthing.

You've just got to learn to look at it the way those involved in the evil con see it. One faction robs ..er, manages the public purse and just 'transfers' the cash into [their war-profiteering business buddy's] different cash registers.

It's all above board and part of the good old "business is business m'boy" Capitalism system.

See? It's 'productive' not wasteful. See?

(/snark)

8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody ever seems to see through all the 'mystique'. The problem arises is beacause the criminals classes have infiltrated big business over the years. Capitalism in itself is not the propblem. The problem is that the modern day Mafia is no longer just a bunch of traditional gangsters. Modern day gansterism is run by well educated and extremely articulate 'God fathers'.

Their expensive suits are much less outlandish than those 'pioneers' that went before them. Their 'fronts' are so well disguised that it's yet another case of elephants in living rooms - albeit a massive one.

It's not so much the business model ideas, financial philosophies etc that are inherrently corrupt .... it's the crooks who have over the years taken charge of them. Then have twisted them to only genuinely benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

A lot of people understand completely what's been happening but can't rely on their elected lawmakers to fix things for them, because the lawmakers are now almost 100% bought and paid for by the crooks. Moreover, the lawmakers are paid their cut, begining years in advance of starting their "real work".

But now, who will even attempt to put things right? And where and with whom should they start? And even if somebody did try how long would they last? By which I mean how long would they live if they came only close to cleaning things up.

Not long ... imo.

1:52 pm  

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