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Letter: Iraq war draining economy

Jim Bottomley, Avon
Vail CO, Colorado

The other day, when the stock market went up for a day or two, I heard some traders say on TV, “well this is the turn around ” the recession is over!”

These guys, of course, can’t see beyond the next five minutes in regard to their business.

Unfortunately, it illustrates the thinking, or lack of thinking, by many of us about the situation we face.

Consider the following: this nation has a federal debt of close to $10 trillion. The debt is increasing every day because of our deficit spending. Every couple of weeks, we borrow more to pay back some of the short-term bonds that mature and to provide cash for government needs.

We are told that when we get out of Iraq, we must rebuild our Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Corps, all of which has worn out over five years of this war.

We must rebuild the Army Reserve, the National Guard, and recruit and train for all of the volunteer forces.

The Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force need new planes and helicopters of all descriptions to replace obsolete fire power and worn-out equipment.

We have spent, and can expect to write off, billions of dollars spent in rebuilding Iraq’s water, electricity, sewage, and oil refineries and pipe lines, not to mention the $325 million dollars being spent on building the largest embassy in the world in Iraq.

Much of this money has already been lost. The corruption and inefficient management of the massive no-bid contracts continuing even today.

Our soldiers returning from Iraq are likely to meet a shrinking job market through off-shoring of jobs, and the current recession.

Our politicians talk about improving health care for all Americans.

No one has talked realistically about how to restore to the Social Security Trust Fund the millions of surplus tax spent by this administration out of the Trust Fund (used to make the deficit look less bad!).

Our baby boomers however, expect that money to be there when they retire in a few years.

The Afghan War continues, with other nations sharing the cost. It may go on for some time.

Despite efforts by Congress, the housing market decline will continue through 2009, and is showing signs of effecting commercial real estate, as well as furniture and appliance sales.

What about the price of oil? Current prices that are more than $100 per barrel certainly add to inflation and affect the cost of the cost of plastics, fertilizers and transportation, including trucking and airlines.

We hope OPEC doesn’t shift oil prices to the Euro to have a more stable world price ” but even if not ” the world price of oil goes up in dollars to compensate for their loss in revenues when dollars convert to local currencies in the Middle East and other places.

This is not a pleasant picture.

Where is the money coming from to do all these things our administration and the politicians say they will do?

Some will say, don’t worry, the gross national product is larger than the debt, and will create enough revenue to pay this debt.

Oh yeah. In a time of recession? Think about it!

My real concern is that unless we take steps to get our ever increasing debt under control, other countries will lose confidence in America’s ability to meet its obligations, and it therefore becomes more difficult to borrow money.

This results in increasing interest rates to get the bonds sold, and creates inflation, and devalues the dollar in world markets.

These are serious long-term problems, and they are not being addressed by the administration or Congress (let alone the traders on Wall Street!).

Step one is to stop increasing our debt! Create confidence in the state of our economy. This means getting out of Iraq. Now!

We must stop throwing an estimated $3 billion a week on this failed attempt to get at Iraqi oil.

This is just a start. But we better “get cracking” as Pappy would say.


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