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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/29/08

New Orleans vs. Iraq: If Only it was Just Billions

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The Bush Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost the U.S. $2.4 trillion, but some fiscal conservatives and anti-tax crusaders are still fixated on derailing the billions of dollars requisite to restore a city lost to Bush’s incompetence and hubris – the city of New Orleans.

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An old, annoying, yet benign, viral e-mail is being treated to a sinister makeover and finding its way into e-mail boxes across America. The e-mail, in its original form, was disseminated ostensibly to ask the reader to posit the vastness of a $1 billion. While ruminating on this idea, the letter goes on to show how politicians cavalierly bandy about such a hefty sum in conversation whilst doing the nation’s business.


Regrettably and inexcusably, the latest revision of this message is laced with lies, race-baiting, and Jim Crow-style bigotry. Its aim is to subtly, but inextricably blame the catastrophic and unprecedented damage of hurricane Katrina, unleashed on the good people of New Orleans, as not only a product of their presumed slothfulness but as a giant welfare windfall waiting to happen for all whom reside there.

The entirely contemptible dispatch contorts and outright fabricates enormous leaps of illogic, Karl Rove-style mathematics, and draws utterly absurd and downright ridiculous conclusions. Playing the Ronald Reagan “welfare queen” card, the e-mail incredulously claims each of the roughly 240,000 city-dwellers of New Orleans will receive a largesse check of $516,528. This insane conclusion—and rather acrobatic and illusionist arithmetic—is misleadingly derived from the aggregate total proposed in and by Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary L. Landrieu’s
Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act of 2005.

Naturally, using even the basest of common sense, any prudent read of the bill neither promises nor suggests anything so outlandish. Rather, it is a wide-ranging laundry list of needed ameliorations to restore a litany of essential services, from education, to housing, to small business and veterans’ needs in order to rebuild the disaster torn area. Money rightly requested to reconstruct a fallen city—struck down by a devastating tragedy—rather than Bush’s senseless misuse of trillions of dollars to wage war in order to lay waste to an entire country. 

Now, let’s talk trillions.

The United States is spending about $8,000 every month per man, woman and child in this country to pursue criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the most recent estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that estimates the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade. These are unnecessary wars of naked aggression, which were, manifested using false pretenses by the Bush administration, and perpetrated using more than 935 lies uttered by Bush and his senior cabinet during his time as President thus far.

More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan—$705 billion—will go to paying interest on the wars' overhead, which are being funded with borrowed dollars chiefly from China. Outside analysts, such as Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, largely agree with the CBO’s findings and judgment.

The usury alone, which stands at a staggering $705 billion, is more than three times the amount proposed to revive and restore New Orleans. And it is more than 40 times the original figure given to fight both theatres of war in the Middle East initially by the Bush administration.

Further, It was only five years ago when Lawrence Lindsey, then-head of the White House's National Economic Council, estimated that the "upper bound" of the cost of going to war with Iraq would be between $100 billion and $200 billion.

Therefore and understandably, most people have difficulty comprehending the scale of $2.4 trillion. To grasp a number that vast in size, one should think of it in these terms: 1-billion seconds equals about 32 years, while 1-trillion seconds equals nearly 300 centuries.

So, if dollars were time, Bush’s war would go on for more than 700 centuries, the equivalent to 72,000 years of combat, death, and violence. To date, after five-plus years of war, we have lost 4,124 soldiers—many of whom where still in their teens or early twenties— at a rate of virtually two per day killed in a senseless act of barbaric hostility.

If the U.S. was at war for 72,000 years, at the current rate of casualties, over the next 700 centuries, George Bush will be directly or indirectly responsible for the pointless deaths of more than 56.4 million young men and women.

The current population of the United Kingdom is 60 million. The present population of Italy is also around 60 million inhabitants. The state of California, according to a 2006 U.S. census, estimates the current populace to reside at around 36 million.

Now, imagine a war that would take the lives of every single individual who lives in Italy or the U.K. A combat mission that is so immense and long-lasting that it would kill off the state of California nearly twice over again.

The above comparisons and analogies might strike a certain cord of hyperbole, but so does the idiotic notion that the people of New Orleans have won a massive welfare lottery as victims vis-à-vis of an enormous natural disaster, yet the proposed government relief is somehow a reprehensible response to people and a city truly in need.

The immeasurable, oppressive expenditure of Bush’s wars is a growing and substantial danger to the future financial security of our nation that now measures into the trillions of dollars. They are also acts of unconscionable bloodshed conjured up by sadistic war profiteers through ginned-up intelligence in order to line the coffers of corporate welfare recipients; beneficiaries of obscene private profits and grotesque public losses—both in blood and treasure. 

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Frank J. Ranelli is an independent scholar, skeptic and critic, author and essayist. His erudite and iconoclastic style of provocative writing has been extensively published in a variety of news outlets and across (more...)
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