Numbers That Ought to Make Us Pause and Ponder

The vast majority of Americans, seduced, distracted, and effectively lobotomized by a national ethos of conspicuous consumption, are more concerned about the cost of filling their Range Rovers and Tahoes with cheap gasoline than examining why that fuel will soon cost $4 a gallon, and why our treasury is rapidly being bankrupted by the “limited government” folks from the GOP. That something like half the voting population continues to support the Republican agenda, built around executing a disastrously ineffective and costly police action in Iraq, suggests Americans, for all their whining about the economy, don’t really care much about how our money is spent, so long as the politicians burning through the dough can make their extravagance sound like the purchase of a basic necessity.

Only the most deluded or ignorant still believe that our obscene folly in Iraq is making America a safer place. But so long as John McCain and friends continue to insist that we can’t “lose” the epic battle between Good (us) and Evil (the natives who don’t want an occupying force in their country), the gullible among us will still get conned. Never mind that the President that they (sort of) elected in 2004 long ago declared this war won (“Mission accomplished!”) Blessed with a more refined understanding of the current pregnancies among this year’s starlets than how their tax dollars are being squandered, the average voter lives in ignorance that could be called “blissful,” if only there wasn’t so much sourness over the mortgage mess, prices at the pump, and the rapidly eroding value of anything backed by dollars.

The following numbers are easily found on the Internet. They come from a variety of reliable sources, including putatively non-partisan think tanks and news organizations, although undoubtedly those who don’t like the taste of this bottle of bitter pills will blame the subjective leanings of the statisticians, rather than the Administration and Congress that authorized the spending.

If you’re worried about your family’s future, or perhaps its present, consider the implications of these numbers…

Spent & approved “war” spending: About $800 billion.

U.S. daily spending in Iraq: More than $270 million, as of November 2007.

Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq: $390,000.

Lost & unaccounted for in Iraq: $9 billion, including $549.7 million in spare parts shipped to US contractors and 190,000 misplaced guns.

Missing equipment: $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces.

Halliburton overcharges classified by the Pentagon as “unreasonable and unsupported”: $1.4 billion.

Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items: $20 billion.

Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem “questionable”: $3.2 billion.

These figures represent only the monetary cost of prosecuting the “war.” The toll in human lives, limbs, and psyches is incalculable — too high, it seems, to distract much of America from the immediate and perturbing cost of filling the tank of their truck.

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