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$87 billion...should he get it?

9/11/2003 4:14 PM
jason $87 billion...should he get it?
9/11/2003 6:37 PM
Mark Hammer

There are two embedded questions there:  
1) Should $87B be spent on the matters in question?  
2) Is this the appropriate administration for that $87B to produce the desired result?  
The answer to #1 could be yes even though the answer to #2 is no. That doesn't mean that the administration ought to be turfed (another question again), but it does mean that a more limited budget might be appropriate for this admin, then figure out what to commit to once their term comes to an end.  
On the other hand, I suspect some would say that all you'd need to change from this admin to another next election *would* be to fork over $87B and see what they do (and don't do) with it. Hefty price to pay, though.
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9/12/2003 4:05 PM
Who actually gets that 87B? Where does it go and what gets purchased? Who gets the profit from whatever it buys?
9/12/2003 8:34 PM
Mark Hammer

As government economists will tell you, a big chunk of that actually goes back into the public coffers via taxes and its net impact on the economy. So, if some segment of that goes into, let's say, an airport or water systems project that employs domestic folks, that money does not simply get siphoned into the pockets of the CEO of the respective companies. It also gets turned into increased hiring in those companies (and all those employees pay federal taxes), increased hiring in the companies that provide the materials for the end-service provider (and *those* employees and companies pay taxes), and conceivably increased hiring in the government agencies that oversee costing and project management (which is also more taxes). Now none of this means that, like deep-frying in Crisco, it all comes back except for one drop. But it does mean that it isn't exactly the same as flushing $87B down the toilet.  
We had a federal employee pay equity dispute here in Canada that was finally settled following a Supreme Court ruling. Government hemmed and hawed about paying out (the hemming was from feared public backlash; the hawing was from looking at the cost to the treasury), until someone finally figured out roughly how much would be coming back in taxes when all these folks took their money (in some cases $20k backpay cheques) and spent it, claimed it, etc. The actual outlay, once the estimated return in the form of sales and income taxes was considered, was much less than what was originally dictated by the court ruling. Same goes here.  
Of course, what immediately crops up is whether the same money, invested in some other constellation of projects, yields a better ROI in terms of world stability, human welfare, foreign relations, etc. A billion spent on providing clean water or electrical lines in many parts of Africa may have a much bigger long-term impact on emigration and concerns over border security than the most expensive military action in Iraq. Three billion on roads, schools, and infrastructure in Pakistan may do more to placate the talibs than a lot more money spent elsewhere. Ten billion in hands-off support for a United Nations peacekeeping force that can function effectively without earning the ire of foreign nations towards the US might be an extremely worthwhile expenditure and some of the most cost-effective security money can buy. Sadly, I don't see that sort of big picture thinking in this administration, at least not in any sort of obvious way, but I could be wrong.  
Still, you have to give the Bush regime credit for at least being honourable. They marched in, mixed things up, and have promised to fix what they broke. Granted, its a lot easier to make such promises when its somebody else's money, but not everyone would follow through in that way. I can only hope that in the effort to "correct" Iraq, that Afghanistan doesn't fester, fall by the wayside, and turn into its old self again. Then there is the mounting problem of Russia and their precarious economy....
9/12/2003 4:36 PM
Mark Lavelle

*He* shouldn't get it, and neither should his friends. I think we do owe it to Iraq and our own troops at this point, though.  
I'd be a lot happier about it if it was attached to a 2 year phase-out of all the tax cuts enacted since W took over...
9/12/2003 9:01 PM
Thats a first..I knew there had to be something cheaper in Britain than the USA.  
So far it's only cost us $320 each,whereas it seems to have cost each American citizen $400. I can only assume that it's bulk discount because we've been at it longer.  
Roll up,Roll up,step right this way! Get your wars here!  
Of has cost some unfortunates a lot more,so I suppose we mustn't grumble.
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