By Kevin StodaAMERICA’S POLITICAL ECONOMY: IRAQ WAR-TIME
I have spent these past few day reviewing the talking-point pages and fact sheets on the NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT (NPP). It is a very informative site for anyone concerned with the political-economic mess our leaders have landed Americans in.
NPP effectively provides data and evidence for citizens and youth concerned about the unfair burdens placed on many peoples and regions of this great land. The recent NPP data, combined with the Naomi Klein narration in the The Shock Doctrine, show that in too many ways the development of the U.S. economy in recent years parallels that used by fascist states, such as Pinochet’s Chile and Nazi Germany, to develop their political economies.
Hopefully, every nation on earth will one day have similar access to their own government’s misspending, so they can rightfully call for an end to the wars breaking out in too many corners of the globe currently.
Each fact sheet (dated August 2007) from NPP in this section http://www.nationalpriorities.org/Publications/A-Vote-for-More-War-States-and-Congressional-Dist-2.html
is aimed at congressional districts throughout the United States and notes:
--how much each individual state and each individual congressional district has been losing out from the federal budget since 2003 due to the Iraq War alone.
--how, in the lead up to the Iraq War, it was claimed by the executive branch and its accounting divisions that the total cost would only be at most $50 to 60 billion.
“Even the [2007 budget for the Iraq War’s current] half a trillion dollar price tag does not begin to cover future costs…. Since the war is deficit-financed, interest payments alone could rise to one hundred billion dollars. Spending on veteran’s health care and disability payments for the many severely wounded soldiers could also mount to hundreds of billions of dollars.”
According to the national report by NPP, by August 2007 at least $456 billion has been taken away at the national level from local communities and states. With current government discretionary spending on defense and the Iraq War reaching (officially) 60% of all such spending annually (regardless as to whether congress does to try and stop the war or not this September), costs to American regions and individual American citizens will continue to double or triple in a few short years.
One reason this will be the case is explained by NPP and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who note, “Apart from the tens of thousands of reported U.S. casualties, nearly one in five returning veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
While over 4,000 American and Allied force soldiers have already died since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the predominant perception in the Iraq and the Middle East (and in most arenas in the USA) continues to be that “the U.S. military presence is provoking more conflict than preventing” it.
Nonetheless, after I reviewed the NPP figures in various well-document reports, I have the impression that the overall impression, NPP figures and costs are too conservative and make little cognizance of multiplier effects on the local and national economy.
This is why economic leaders and decision makers, like Alan Greenspan, should have bravely spoken out long ago against the hemorrhage facing Americans (and the economy) in this decade and have warned daily against the future American political economy due to the horrible fiscal behavior of the past 7 years and due to the war-making addiction of the current and past administrations in Washington, D.C..
Before delving into the shortfalls in NPP’s model of accounting, I will look at the 5 U.S. states where I have lived over the past 4 decades and use these close-ups of the political economy to show a peek at how NPP’s talking points and common arguments are developed and presented to legislature and concerned citizens.
The objective of my looking specifically at one region of U.S. states making up 1/6 of the American economy (i.e. looking at these states—Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) is two-fold: