According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report…The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, will be the most expensive wars in US history—together totaling somewhere between 4 trillion and 6 trillion dollars. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”
That’s 4-6 trillion dollars for 2 wars that President Bush said would cost between 100-200 billion dollars, one of which would pay for itself with Iraqi oil revenues. Boy was he ever wrong!
But forget about that because here we sit in 2014 with Republicans up in arms over the Affordable Care Act and still trying to do their darnedest to repeal it or nay-say it because they say it will be too costly for the American public to sustain… but when it comes to a 4-6 trillion dollar boondoggle designed to destroy American lives, foreign countries and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghan citizens where is their public outcry? Or anyone else’s for that matter?
And now consider the fact that (by conservative estimates) we now spend 4 billion dollars each month in Afghanistan! That’s around 50 billion dollars per year spent in a country that has a GDP of 20 billion dollars! And then when you subtract the amount of money included in their GDP that comes from opium production and foreign aid (mostly ours) Afghanistan is pretty much worthless! (at least to us)
So we pump 50 billion dollars per year into a giant sink hole that is all set to revert back to the exact conditions we found it in, once we pull out in 2015, but we pull our hair and clench our fists and tie ourselves up in knots over whether or not we can afford to spend some money on each others healthcare…and no matter how much we spend it’s going to be money spent by Americans, on Americans, in America to make certain other American’s richer.
Boy is that a bad idea, huh?
Why feed Americans or house Americans or heal Americans or fix American cities when we can blow a hole in a foreign country and dump all of our money into the big black pit that we’re just going to leave behind anyway? Like we always do…
There must be an answer…right?
Here is a very alarming statistic!
There are over 200,000 inmates in America’s prisons who are veterans.
That’s 14% of the U.S. prison population!
Which means that 1 out of every 7 American citizens who is incarcerated today, once served our country by participating in its armed forces.
And when you consider that:
Nationwide, 900,000 veterans live in households that rely on SNAP to provide food for their families.
57,849 veterans are homeless on any given night, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
An investigation by the Department of Veteran Affairs concludes that Almost once an hour a military veteran commits suicide. That’s over 8,000 suicides every year.
And consider that government programs for food stamps, housing and mental health have all recently been cut.
When our nation’s young soldiers are recruited and advertised as heroic unselfish patriots fighting for national freedoms and yet later as veterans, treated as though they were worn out, discarded and forgotten appliances who can no longer be of any marketing value, then something is seriously wrong with what it is that we all think we, or rather our soldiers, are fighting for.
If the costs of waging war are so great that the costs of healing the wounded are considered too burdensome then it’s time to recognize the fact that war isn’t our most serious nor our most pressing problem.
Well ,it’s happened again. Another mass shooting in the United States. The Huffington Post has reported that this was the 17th mass shooting in the United States this year. Of course that lit up the internet with gun advocates claiming that a mass shooting only counts when people are killed, not wounded and definitely not when just multiple shots are fired by multiple people and only a few are injured, so your 17 mass shootings may just be my 7 mass shootings.
I know that in my town of Toms River, NJ we had 2 mass shootings in the late 1990s when 4 and then 5 people were murdered by gunmen who happened to be retired police officers. Since then I have searched for these incidents whenever mass shootings lists appear in the newspaper or on the internet and they never show up…so I guess they didn’t happen or perhaps in deference to the retired police officers previous years of exemplary service they just aren’t mentioned.
That seems to be how many Americans view these tragedies. Let’s just forget about it and move on. There’s no sense in trying to prevent these tragedies because they each involve America’s God given and most basic of rights…the right to bear arms. And since America is the greatest country there ever was and probably ever will be the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is more sacred and sacrosanct to a supposed “Christian” nation than the 6th Commandment of the 10 Commandments of God.
If there had been an amendment guaranteeing citizens the right to health care, the madman who committed the Washington Navy Yard murders, may have received the proper care when, during his ER visit 2 weeks before, he complained to police that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel room and sending microwave vibrations into his body to deprive him of sleep.
Who knows? But for whatever reasons many Americans believe that the right to carry, own and use firearms is a right that transcends all others and is more important than a persons right to decent food, proper housing, adequate healthcare or employment at a fair and liveable wage.
Perhaps our founding fathers knew that those things would just be too expensive for independent, free thinking capitalists and entrepreneurs to have the wherewithal to want to pay for or provide to others who may be less fortunate or less “equal” than the founders of the new great nation.
And now, in the short time it has taken for me to right this, another 13 people have been shot in an incident in Chicago. Is that now 18 mass shooting this year…or not? Meanwhile in Iowa people who are legally blind or…wait for it… completely blind… will now be allowed to carry, display, and use if necessary, guns in public places. After all, people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all of life’s experiences…so why shouldn’t they be allowed to participate…or create if they so choose…some death experiences?
So, While one legislative body is granting the right for people who cannot see to shoot at whatever they choose, another legislative body is doing its best to deny access to fair and affordable healthcare to those who might someday get shot!
Is this what it means to be human in the United States of America in the year of our lord, 2013? Are we truly a nation built on the rights of mankind? And does man have but one right? Kill or be killed? And but one law? The law of the jungle?
In whatever grand design this nation was created over 230 years ago We are now most famously known as a nation of guns: exporters and importers of violence the world over, while we self righteously deny healthcare, living wages and food to our own citizens… and all the while we stand before the heavens and Earth and say that we are the greatest!
And I suppose we must be… for what man or god would be foolish enough to oppose us and say otherwise?
And I guess we all have the 2nd Amendment to thank for that.
If you have not read my previous two memos on this subject, Don’t Let You Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, and Why War Is Stupid: Part Deux, I invite you to please do so…but here is just another of so many reasons why you should not participate nor encourage anyone you know to go to war.
Depleted uranium is the waste product of the uranium enrichment process for nuclear power reactors and nuclear weapons. It consists of the same components and it has about 60 percent of the radioactivity of uranium. Since it is a waste product and therefore difficult to find a place to put, store, hide, get rid of…The United States has stockpiled an estimated 450,000 tons of the stuff.
But…Since it has also been discovered to be heavier than lead and harder than steel, DU is used by the US in both defensive armor and armor-piercing ammunition. These weapons contain a solid rod of DU that increases their ability to penetrate heavily armored vehicles, buildings, tanks and underground bunkers and, unlike other weapons that become blunted upon impact, DU sharpens and self-ignites upon firing and impact. These weapons also however, create an aerosolized cloud of radioactive uranium oxide that in effect “cooks” any unfortunates who may be inside said tank, vehicle or bunker. This makes DU weapons incredibly effective, and more and more the weapon of choice in today’s modern war scenarios.
It is now estimated that over 1,000 tons of DU have been used by US and British forces throughout the 1991 war in Iraq, in the Balkans in the late 1990’s in the 2003 Iraq War, and in Afghanistan. This of course has been very bad news for our enemies and very good news for those who have been trying to get rid of this nuclear waste product…but why should it be of any concern to you and I and our soldiers?
Well,…scientists estimate that anywhere from 50-96 percent of the dust created by these weapons is made up of respirable particles which, if inhaled, can remain in the lungs for years. As a result not only our enemies but also our soldiers breath this “depleted” uranium on a daily basis not to mention the millions of innocent Bosnian, Iraqi and Afghani citizens many of whom now live in cities under conditions akin to Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the A-bomb droppings of 1945.
And consider these figures which are now being reported…Just 467 US personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are dead, and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. This astounding number of disabled vets means that within one decade, 56 percent of those soldiers who served in the first Gulf War now have medical problems.
We’ve all heard that “war is hell” and that it is an unfortunate “necessary evil” but now when you consider that we as a country are fighting wars against such overmatched militaries like Iraq and Afghanistan much if not most of the damage that is done to our own soldiers is either from what is known as “friendly fire” or the newly added dangers of exposure to our own deadly weapons caused by the fallout from DU, and then if you add in the concussive effects of these incredibly powerful weapons and the head trauma that is experienced by troops who are simply on the battlefield when these weapons are fired, then include the ever growing anti-social and anxietal problems of simply being in the modern military and the high incidences of rape and suicide they produce, we truly have become our own worst enemies.
We have finally met our most formidable foe…and it is us!
So Mamas… and Papas…do not let, encourage or even suggest to your babies that they grow up to be cowboys and fight in wars.
I fear, and perhaps even more frighteningly so, that we must now and forever only let our robots do it…and that, sadly and ironically enough, may just prove to be the best and most imperative reason to no longer do it at all…
Over 200 years ago James Madison (the 4th president of the United States and one of our founding fathers) had these interesting thoughts about governance which I found to be quite relevant to our political and societal problems in 2012…
On providing a public education for all citizens:
On our politicians and politics:
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” “Armies and debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”
We already have the largest army the world has ever seen, and I seriously doubt that it is going to get any smaller. We have the largest debt that the world has ever seen and I also have serious doubts that it will be getting any smaller. So do any of us really believe that are taxes will be getting smaller any time soon no matter what anyone tells us?
As far as I can see our choice is between someone who might have some shared experiences with the way most of us live and someone who has no shared experience with the way most of us live. I have to go with the lesser of two evils and hope (I’d say pray but I think President Madison was spot on about that too) that we will discover the common sense necessary to restore our common sanity.
Why War Is Stupid: Part Deux
During Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq, a student in my class raised his hand and asked me a question.
“Hey, Mr. Picone, did you see that general on TV who was showing the video where a cruise missile tracks down an Iraqi truck and blows it up right there on a bridge?”
“Yes, I replied. I did.”
“Well, continued the student, how much do you think that old Iraqi truck was worth?”
“Oh about 20 to 30 thousand dollars,” I guessed
“And that bomb with the camera inside that tracked it down and blew it up. That cost a few hundred million didn’t it?”
“Yes, I think you’re right.” I said.
“So my question is, said the student who was about to give me something very interesting to think about, If our country is Spending 200 million dollars to blow up a 20,000 dollar truck how long can we keep that up before going broke?”
He asked me that question in 1992 and although I had no answer for him then, apparently my answer should have been, “Oh, I’d say about 16 years!” War is stupid because eventually we all go broke. You can bet money on it! Just ask Egypt and Greece and Rome and Persia and Spain and England and France and the Soviet Union and…US.!
All civilizations eventually either spend all of their money on feeding the wealthy’s appetite for more wealth or on war, neither of which is an ingredient in any recipe for the prosperity and growth of a civilization and its people. Education however, no matter how expensive it may be for a civilization’s inhabitants to fund, sustain and expand never leads to the end of anyone’s civilization. When will we ever learn that?