Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The $2 Trillion Nightmare

Imagine that Mr. Smith puts out $1,000 for a huge fireworks display for a 4th of July block party. The total cost of this party is not just the money spent on fireworks, but the money lost to the Smith family that could have been earned had the money been invested. That amount is somewhat speculative, but a reasonable guess could be made. It wouldn't even take a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

The New York Times carried an op-ed yesterday on a Congressional hearing in Washington last week concerning Bush's "$2 Trillion Nightmare." Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz [pdf] testified that the overall costs of the war — not just the cost to taxpayers — will reach $3 trillion. Said Prof. Stiglitz [pdf]:

Because the administration actually cut taxes as we went to war, when we were already running huge deficits, this war has, effectively, been entirely financed by deficits. The national debt has increased by some $2.5 trillion since the beginning of the war, and of this, almost $1 trillion is due directly to the war itself ... By 2017, we estimate that the national debt will have increased, just because of the war, by some $2 trillion.

The total cost comes out to about $10,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.

If you had been asked in 1989,

“Would you like to spend $10,000 for every member of your family to defend
Kuwait, kill several thousand Americans and several hundred thousand Iraqis, overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein (which permits Christians to live, worship, and evangelize), and replace it with an Islamic theocracy (destroying the largest Christian community in the Arab world, making most of them refugees)?”

would you have forked over the dough? Would that be a good use of your family's money?

America wasn't asked this question because the answer would have been No: Americans would not have wanted to pay for this war. No nukes were found in Iraq, nor any relatives of even a single 9-11 hijacker.

But the government doesn't need "the consent of the governed" any more; not with the Federal Reserve ready to print up trillions of dollars of new money (and get paid interest for it).

Remember that in addition to the money the government is spending on "shock and awe," it is also collecting votes every election by promising trillions of dollars in benefits: $83.9 trillion, to be precise. Combine the testimony heard in Congress last week with this, in the same congressional committee, from 30 years ago:

Senator William Proxmire: "...there are 37 million people, is that right, that get Social Security benefits?"
Social Security Commissioner James Cardwell: "Today between 32 and 34 million."
Proxmire: "I am a little high; 32 to 34 million people.
Almost all of them, or many of them, are voters. In my state, I figure there are 600,000 voters that receive Social Security. Can you imagine a senator or congressman under those circumstances saying, 'We are going to repudiate that high a proportion of the electorate?' No.
"Furthermore, we have the capacity under the Constitution, the Congress does, to coin money, as well as to regulate the value thereof. And therefore we have the power to provide that money. And we are going to do it. It may not be worth anything when the recipient gets it, but he is going to get his benefits paid."
Cardwell: "I tend to agree."

(The Social Security System, Hearings Before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, 94th Cong., 2nd Session, May 26 and 27, 1976, pp. 27-28. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1977.)

Your pension, your social security, your stock portfolio -- all will have a nice dollar figure -- and all will be utterly worthless in terms of purchasing power.

Every Congressman that voted for the war and for $80 trillion in benefits programs is either financially incompetent or fundamentally unethical. Probably both. Will Americans vote these Congressmen out of office in November? Probably not. Even if they did, would voters elect representatives of a completely different moral character? Probably not.

Here is why men run for Congress. Except Ron Paul.

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