CynicScape: Accounting for the Numbing Numbers
Recently the Congressional Joint Economic Committee announced that the hidden cost of the Liar's War in Iraq (and to a much smaller degree the war in Afghanistan) would top $1.6 trillion, at least until 2008. Coincidently, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will cost $1.6 trillion over five years to bring our aging infrastructure up to good condition.
To date 3,870 U.S. war fighters have died in Iraq. Over 85,000 have been injured. Iraqi casualties range from 655,000 to 1 million plus - the Department of Defense doesn't keep accurate records. But nightly we see graphic images on television and daily we read stories about the toll the Liar's War is taking on Iraqi and American sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and relatives. Who wants to put a price on that?
On the home front, the collapse of the I-35W Bridge killed 13 and injured over 100. Nationwide we don't know even how many civilians are injured as a result of engineering failures because our government does not keep records. We do know that in 2006, 1,258 workers, 63 construction managers and 54 architects and engineers died on construction-related jobs and another 153,180 suffered from injuries or illness. How many more deaths will it take to stop the madness on both fronts?
If you visit the
ASCE websiteyou can click on its national infrastructure report card to see how members view our infrastructure by category. While the report was compiled in 2005 and conditions most assuredly have deteriorated since then, our cumulative report card score was D. It will take $1.6 trillion to raise third world America to B.
However, with Dubya in the White House and a national election looming, there will be no new tax increases to pay for the improvements. And in the face of a stagnant or declining economy, tax revenues will likely fall in the ensuing years, meaning proportionally less money for infrastructure. America scraped up the $1.6 trillion, but our leaders blew it. They chose bombs over bridges. Remember that when you vote.
While we did liberate Iraq from a secular thug, contrary to neocon deception we did not find weapons of mass destruction nor links to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. And Iraqi oil output is not paying for anything. In fact, Iraq was never a threat to the U.S. but the cost of the Liar's War keeps growing like a malignancy on the soul of America.
What I want to know is what pain did the neocons suffer? Did theses tough-talking chickenhawks feel the grief of their war through the loss or maiming of a loved one? Did they suffer financial or emotional devastation from their war? Were their lives disrupted, mortgages foreclosed, jobs lost, health destroyed because of their war? Or did they continue to live a banal existence, going to parties, shopping at the mall and celebrating birthdays - as if nothing ever happened? What did the Liar's War cost them?
More importantly, shouldn't they be brought to justice to account for their actions? A public trial would disclose the truth about the war and perhaps punish the Quislings who betrayed their oath of office. Unfortunately, it will not restore thousands of lost and damaged lives and the opportunities and joy they would have brought to their families and to mankind. Nor will it replace the billions of tax dollars wasted. But there must be an accounting.