Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mistakes Were Made

Remember when the Bush Administration fired Lawrence Lindsey for estimating the cost of regime change in Iraq at $200 billion? Ha ha that was so funny.

Today Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Blimes had to revise their $3 trillion war estimate. Upwards:
But today, as the United States ends combat in Iraq, it appears that our $3 trillion estimate (which accounted for both government expenses and the war's broader impact on the U.S. economy) was, if anything, too low. For example, the cost of diagnosing, treating and compensating disabled veterans has proved higher than we expected.

Moreover, two years on, it has become clear to us that our estimate did not capture what may have been the conflict's most sobering expenses: those in the category of "might have beens," or what economists call opportunity costs. For instance, many have wondered aloud whether, absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan. And this is not the only "what if" worth contemplating. We might also ask: If not for the war in Iraq, would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe?

The answer to all four of these questions is probably no. The central lesson of economics is that resources -- including both money and attention -- are scarce. What was devoted to one theater, Iraq, was not available elsewhere.

The rest of the piece is equally depressing.

When you think of all the things that could have been done with that money -- healthcare, teachers hired, environmental restoration, infrastructure rebuilding, job training, scientific research, unemployment extensions -- all the stuff the Republicans are yammering about how we don’t have money to do these things and the free hand of the market should pay for them anyway! while wringing their hands over making our grandchildren pay for the stimulus! when in fact not one of those assholes said anything about our grandchildren paying for this stupid, useless war except CLAP LOUDER. It just turns my stomach, it really does.

But the worst part is that no one went to jail for this. No one’s career was destroyed for this mistake. Hell, there are rumors that John Bolton might run for president. People got rich off the taxpayer teat -- people like Erik Prince, such a nice Christian fellow -- and where is the call for accountability? *Crickets*

I simply don't understand why the nation is not rising up over the biggest national blunder in our history. We'll quite literally be paying for this mistake for a generation, on so many levels. And it's like the entire country is happily choosing to move along, think happy thoughts now, er, maybe not happy thoughts since we're all so depressingly broke but here's a great idea, let's blame the black man in the White House for all of our problems instead of having a come to Jesus moment about our national shame. How's that working for everybody?

I still cannot believe that we invaded a country for no reason and no one has paid for it. The biggest mistake of the Obama Administration was not devoting a little time and energy to a war inquiry like what they're doing in the UK right now, or a truth and reconciliation commission like they did in South Africa. To borrow President Obama's favorite phrase: make no mistake. The physical and psychic wounds of this colossal error run very, very deep. And by not channeling the grief and anger where it belongs, without giving us a chance for national healing, Obama has just heaped a whole bunch of grief and anger on himself.

And I have a special word to our glorious mainstream media. You folks so eager to cover every gathering of Teanuts who seem oh so worried about the national debt, not a one of them ever asks where Dick Armey was when our $3 trillion war was drummed up (originally opposing the war, Armey voted in favor of war authorization after Dick Cheney made him wet his pants.) Our prestigious national news media, so busy picking apart every little thing President Obama does, like what condiments he puts on his burgers and what beverages he drinks -- yet they can’t be bothered to ask how or why the last administration was allowed to bankrupt the nation and slaughter thousands of innocents.

Guess they’re too busy washing the blood off of their hands.