How the US Is Deferring War Costs
From the Christian Science Monitor: “To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, the US raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. But to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has used its credit card, counting on the Chinese and other foreign buyers of its debt to pay the bills. Now, as President Bush is promising to boost the number of troops in Iraq, there is increased scrutiny over how the US is going to pay for it all. The US is spending about $10 billion a month on Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, the total funds appropriated will be nearly $600 billion – approaching the amount spent on the Vietnam or Korean wars, when adjusted for inflation. However, the actual impact of the war on the economy is different than in the past, largely because the US economy is so much bigger now. During World War II, some analysts calculate that the US spent as much as 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the war effort. The Korean War, at its spending peak in 1953, represented 14 percent of GDP; Vietnam was about 9 percent. The current war, however, is less than 1 percent of America's annual $13 trillion GDP. The US can certainly afford the war, says budget analyst Stan Collender, a managing director of Qorvis Communications in Washington. But the spending is taking resources from other areas, he notes. Because the US is borrowing to finance the war, the cost will be borne by future generations. "And it's still going to be one of the most expensive wars we have ever fought," he says. Unlike in previous major wars, the United States has cut taxes at the same time it has increased military spending. "It's fair to say all of the money spent on the war has been borrowed," says Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank in Washington. "But eventually everything has to be paid for." [...] Estimating the budget deficit has become more difficult in recent years because the White House has funded much of the war through emergency supplemental bills, which are not included in the federal budget. [...] This year, the White House is expected to ask for another $100 billion in supplemental war funds, but Representative Spratt says he would like to get the war back on the budget since it can be argued the war is no longer an emergency. "Calling it an emergency means the spending does not get the scrutiny," he adds, because then the spending is reviewed by only one committee – House Appropriations. In addition, he says, emergency spending is exempt from caps on discretionary spending. This has prompted the military to include in the bill items that are not directly related to the war. [...] By the end of this year, on a cash basis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be closing in on the costs of the Vietnam War ($650 billion in today's dollars) and the Korean War ($691 billion). Some analysts believe the cost of the war is much higher than Congress estimates. In a study last January and updated in October, Harvard Prof. Linda Bilmes and Columbia Prof. Joseph Stiglitz estimated the budgetary and economic cost of the war at $2 trillion. Ms. Bilmes, in a phone interview, says Congress looks only at its cash outlays, not at the war's future costs. For example, she says, an estimated 42,000 light trucks are in use in Iraq. Although it costs something to run them, the major cost will be replacing them. "That's not factored into the cost of the war," she says. The same is true of the cost of taking care of injured veterans in the future.” The full story...
Bush to Congress: Drop Dead
From the LATimes, following the Bush interview on 60 Minutes: “As Congress and the administration gird for conflict over troop levels in Iraq, President Bush is asserting that he has the power to send more U.S. forces, regardless of what lawmakers want. "I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it," Bush said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes." When asked whether he thought he had the authority to send additional troops in the face of opposition from the Democratic majority in Congress, Bush said: "In this situation, I do, yeah."
The president's comments were part of an administration effort to quell the growing roar of criticism about its Iraq strategy, as Democrats plan nonbinding resolutions opposing the troop increase and as some Republicans echo their resistance to the plan.
Bush acknowledged that some of the administration's steps had contributed to Iraq's instability and said any mistakes should be laid at his feet. "If people want a scapegoat, they've got one right here in me because it's my decisions," the president said.
[...] In the "60 Minutes" interview, taped last week, Bush said he wasn't bothered by his low approval ratings and called himself the "educator in chief," arguing that sharing his views would help to overcome public and congressional resistance. "I'm going to have to keep explaining," he said. [...]
And he expressed pride in U.S. achievements in Iraq: "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude," Bush said. Asked if he owed the Iraqi people an apology for not providing better security after the 2003 invasion, he said: "Not at all."” The full story...
Martin Luther King Day
Beyond Vietnam, Again
Celebrants marked MLK Day by variously posting his Letter from a Birmingham Jail or his Dream speech. Let's not forget the most appropriate speech of all, given the circumstances: Beyond Vietnam, delivered at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, which included these words: “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.” Here's the full speech:
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.
Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. Read the rest...
The Burqah-Bikini Veils Australian Beaches
Islam's sexy stuff
The deciding factor in the firing of Carey the "perfectionist" on the latest Apprentice on Sunday night was a bathing suit. Carey, a marketer, thought a flamingly gay, pink pair of swimming trunks could sell like bun-cakes. Or at least bunte cakes. Despite strutting them on the runway with every glisteningly gay fiber in his body (a disposition he acknowledged proudly to Mr. Crass himself in The Boardroom, as he should), the buyers didn't go for it, his team sank, and Mr. Crass, his approving daughter Miss Crass at his side, fired him. Maybe Carey should have thought of the Burquini. From Reuters in the Sydney Morning Herald:
In a lycra revolution, a cover-all swimming costume is bringing Muslim women on to Australian beaches as lifeguards, unzipping racial tensions which divided parts of Sydney little over a year ago. The two-piece "burqini", popular in the Middle East, is proving key to a reshaping surf lifesaving - once a bastion of white Australian culture and still a heartland of the country's sun-bronzed, heroic self-myth. "I am Australian so I always have the Australian life style, but now with the burqini it just allowed me to participate in it more. We used to always go to the beach, but now that I have the burqini I can actually swim," said Mecca Laalaa, 22. Laalaa is one of 24 young Australians of Arab heritage who recently signed up to a 10-week training course run by Surf Life Saving Australia aimed at widening the racial mix on beaches. The shift follows race riots between ethnic Lebanese Australians and white Australian youths at Cronulla Beach in Sydney's south in the lead-up to Christmas in 2005. [...] Laalaa, whose ethnic background is Lebanese-Australian, is relying on a home-grown burqini - a compromise between a burqa and a bikini - to keep her covered on Cronulla's sands. The full-length lycra suit with hijab head-covering is not too figure hugging to embarrass, but is tight enough to allow its wearer to swim freely. It will soon be manufactured in the iconic red and yellow of Australia's surf life saving movement. [...] Zanetti, who sells her burqinis for up to $A200, hopes to widen the garment's appeal beyond Muslim women at the beach." The full story...
I'd like to see an apprentice market that idea. But none would of course. Too much accommodation, not enough money.
Diarist: White Teeth
For the Love of Torture
So yes, she got them today. That mouth above and the Miami Beach-like attempts at art-deco colorization within it are the reason I’m going to be set back $5,000 over the next two years, all for the sake un-crooked teeth and a smile, we hope, winning enough to earn our daughter her rightful place in suburbia’s hierarchy of American beauties: Everywhere teeth are born free yet live in chains—of luxury, in our case, of decay in so many others’ misfortunes, and in Britain’s case, well, straight teeth are just illegal. She’s not yet thirteen, she’ll be stuck with that razor-wire torture until well into the first year of the next presidential administration, the stuff looks as atrocious as it must feel, yet she’s been going around for the last five or six months beaming and skipping at the thought of wearing the damn things. I warned her of the dangers ahead: food bits that’ll colonize her pearlies like they’re so many Plymouth rocks, her uppers and lowers that’ll eventually feel like it’s Shiites and Sunnis battling for supremacy in her Baghdad, kissing’s eventual hazards, should a boy come that close and dare me to break my vow never to bear arms, and use them. She took all my warnings, chewed on them for about the time it takes cluck a tongue, then spat them out. She wanted those colors. Lime green and hot pink? She’s getting back at me for making her read the OpEd page of the Times every day. Don’t be surprised if you see advertising appear on this site sometime before Euro 2008. Something’s going to have to pay the bills.
Crumbs & Quickies