Tuesday, June 24, 2014

            I can’t even comprehend how much $1.7 trillion is, but apparently that’s what the war in Iraq cost us. And we’re still paying. There will be an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, and over the next four decades, that amount could grow to more than $6 trillion. Add the cost of our engagements in Afghanistan and Pakistan to what we spent in Iraq, and the figure goes up to nearly $4 trillion.
After destroying Iraq, we then had to rebuild it, spending more than $60 billion in taxpayer dollars. According to one report, there’s very little sign of where this money actually went. “. . . you can go into any city in Iraq and not find one building or project built by the U.S. government.” Check out httpp://money.msn.com for the extravagant waste of our money – that’s your money and mine – in Iraq. Two examples among thousands of waste: billing $3000 for a circuit breaker valued at $94, and $900 for a control switch valued at $7.05.  
            What did we get for these trillions fighting a war that began with a lie? To begin with, an estimated 189,000 dead. We managed to get both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, but the war reinvigorated radical Islamist militants in the region. It’s sort of like pulling weeds in your garden. Pull one; two grow back. What we didn’t get is democracy in that region. I lived in the Middle East for eight years, and learned that they’re not interested in replicating what we have. Why must we force our views and practices on them?
            I find it hard to understand all the wrangling about cutting spending when we have wasted trillions in a war that accomplished nothing good, and much that was bad. We might have been just as well off to build a bonfire and burn our taxpayer dollars.  I’d like to suggest just a few of the ways that money would have been better spent.
1.      BRIDGES
I keep reading that the nation’s infrastructure is in dire need of repair. Why are we spending money on circuit breakers in Iraq, paying thirty times what they are worth, when no one can guarantee that our bridges won’t come toppling down any day now? I vote for new bridges instead of circuit breakers.
I love windmills. Maybe that has to do with loving Hans Brinker, but even so, windmills are a clean form of energy. Think of the new jobs we could create if we went on a wind-mill building spree. We could also have used some of that wasted money in developing other clean energy sources.
It’s a national disgrace. We spend more than $6 trillion killing people and destroying a country, yet leave our students with a horrendous debt load.
People keep harping on getting rid of bad teachers. I don’t hear anyone coming up with ways to entice our best and smartest into the teaching profession. If you have the brains to be successful in one of the more lucrative professions, why would you accept a measly teacher’s salary? Isn’t it time we coughed up money and made education a priority?
Every citizen of the United States should have access to information. Those states that have put money into improving school libraries and hiring adequate media personnel have shown a commensurate improvement in student test scores. We could have built a lot of new libraries and modernized a lot of old ones with all that money.
Maybe find a way to wipe out malaria? The common cold? Cancer? Nooooo, we’d rather waste trillions on a war in the Middle East.
So, let’s hear it from all you. How would have liked to spend those trillions?

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