By Terry Hughes
ECON 101, (OR, IT'S THE WAR, STUPID)
When I was a freshman in college at the University of California, Santa Barbara I accidentally signed up for Economics 101, a class closed to freshmen. After the first day of class I realized I was hopelessly outgunned, but foolishly decided to stay the course, and competed against upper classmen who did not spend every afternoon drinking beer on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I don't remember much about the class, except for my poor grade, but one subject stood out at the time, and remains with me today: guns and butter.
It seems that nations have a finite amount of money to spend, (unless they borrow, of course), and must choose how to budget their resources on the military, (guns), or on the domestic economy, (butter). If a country is at war, it must spend the majority of its funds on the military, and sacrifice the domestic spending agenda. If the war overwhelms the budget, sacrifices must be asked of the populace in the butter department. Butter is rationed, as is gasoline, metals, meats and civilian business activity.
When George Walker Bush decided to launch the Bush War, he ignored this simple premise, which surely must have been discussed while he attended Harvard to earn his MBA. If you launch a war, you had better cut down on the butter. He and Dick Cheney went one better, however, and decided to attack OPEC well before September 11, 2001. Dick Cheney met in the White House with the American Oil Cartel, and revealed that Bush and Cheney would break OPEC by invading Iraq and control the source of the second largest deposits of oil in the world. When 9-11 came along, it seemed like the perfect rationale for invading the 'terrorist' state of Iraq. After the invasion and failed occupation, OPEC got wind of the strategy, and lifted the lid on the price of oil. The result today is oil costing about a hundred dollars a barrel.
The greatest concern of Americans today is our bungled economy, but few people connect the botched Bush War with our failed economy. This war was paid for on credit because George Walker Bush did not want the Americans to sacrifice their butter, and the Chinese were more than willing to front the cost. Today we are paying the cost of this short-sighted strategy.
And now we are facing a credit catastrophe, a mortgage calamity and an inflation of prices for goods and services. The Iraq situation continues to stumble into a civil war which will only invite Iran into the fracas. It is time to stop wasting blood and treasure in a country, much like Viet Nam, who does not want us occupying their culture, and thinks of us as their enemy.
It is time to declare "Mission Accomplished" and come home from the endless Bush War. If the federal government ceases spending money on building bombs and shifts its funds to our national infrastructure, our economy will recover much in the same way as it did under FDR in the response to the earlier Republican disaster of the great Depression.
Build a bomb and blow it up, and you invest a dollar which does not return investment. Build a home and your dollar is re-circulated in the economy seven times over thirty years with mortgage payments, maintenance and remodels. It is time to bring our dollars home, and to stop investing in a vanity war, the Bush War. It is our choice: Guns or Butter.